In a pickle
Last week I hung out with my best friend's dog for a few hours so they could spend the day on a mini-vacation. Really I just played frisbee with her in the yard for 20 minutes and then laid on their couch, in their central air, drinking their wine and watching My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding on their cable. It was tough. As payment, they gave me some gigantic cucumbers from their garden. Mostly they just needed to offload a bunch of cucumbers because their garden is amazing and producing at unreasonable levels. I am thankful of that because so far I have one cucumber and it looks like this...
Marcel doesn't really like cucumbers but we both love pickles, so I decided I'd make some ice box pickles so they wouldn't go bad. What I didn't realize is that ice box pickles are sweet! Fortunately, as I poured the second cup of sugar into the single cup of vinegar, my "this doesn't seem quite right" alarm went off and I poured the brine directly down the drain and started again.
This time I used a mixture of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt and sugar, cooked over medium heat until the salt and sugar dissolved. I let the mixture cool and set off to add it to my jars of cucumbers, onions and garlic. Well... turns out that my inability to understand how much liquid will fill up a jar struck again and the brine only filled 1.5 of my 4 jars of cukes! Worse still (because it meant I would have to leave the house to go back to my least favorite place on earth... the grocery store), I was out of white vinegar.
I think that every family has one of those "cure all's" passed down from mom. Or Grandma. Or Auntie. Or whomever. In my family, it is always "drink water." From my Auntie, it is "soak it in Epsom salts." A friend of mine growing up was told to drink OJ for every ailment. And really, they're all good advice. If you can't solve your problem with hydration, Epsom salt or vitamin C, you probably need a doctor. I have found in my travels through countless self-sufficiency posts on pinterest that white vinegar seems to be the homesteading version of those old cures. Got flies in your chicken coop? White vinegar. Drain running slow? White vinegar. Dirty grout? White vinegar. I've always felt a little dubious about white vinegar's ability to fix basically everything that could go wrong on your homestead. If it's such a miracle, why do we use anything else? Advertising, obviously. White vinegar is way less sexy, and a lot more stinky, than some $20/bottle "all natural" cleaning agent from the store. When I went to the store to pick up white vinegar for my pickle brine I grabbed the small bottle because I was just making some pickles and I couldn't quite bring myself to buy the gallon of white vinegar. When I went back the second time, it had to be the gallon bottle. First, I couldn't be sure I knew how much brine the small bottle would make and I'd be damned if I was going back out a third time for these dumb pickles, plus it was only a dollar more. I guess we'll see if it truly does all the amazing things the internet suggests it can.
I mixed the final batch of brine, filled the remaining pickle jars and sealed the lids. I left the pickles to set on the counter for a few hours before placing them in the fridge. The result after several days of brining in the fridge were EXTREMELY vinegary pickles. Now, I love me some vinegar, but these are a bit much. Though, I gave a jar to my friend Melissa and she claims they are delicious. So I guess to each their own. I'm going to pawn the rest of the jars off on my vinegar loving sister and nephew and go back to the drawing board on how to mix pickle brine that doesn't make my face pucker.