Homemade Half-Sour Pickles
We have had lots of squash and cucumbers and tomatoes. With this extra produce, we decided to play with pickling and in particular, make our own pickles! We both spent a lot of time on the East Coast and LOVE our half-sours! Here is the recipe we used/made up. Try them with some farmer’s market cucs and then next year, grow your own! 🙂
What kind of cucumbers did we use? We grew the typical small pickling cucs and our plot neighbors were growing salt and pepper cucumbers. Since we were plot sitting for them (watering and picking) we ended up with several of different kinds of cucumbers. As for pickles, Dan liked the small green cucumbers we grew best and I liked the lighter salt and pepper cucs better as pickles. We may even explore pickling lemon cucumbers next! Pick them when they are small and if you are buying them, the younger the better. Larger ones taste very different and sometimes you have to skin them.
Never heard of a half-sour pickle? Oh I am SO SORRY for you!! These little guys are DELISH! John Thorne (The Dill Crock, 1984) describes half-sours as “cucumbers still, not pickles-little cucumbers who died and gone to heaven.” It’s so true! They are mild and perfect!
Here’s our method:
Please note: our recipe is super free form. You can make a small batch or large. The only thing that is relatively exact is the salt…
Talia and Dan’s Half-Sours
- Kosher salt
- Coriander seeds
- Black peppercorns
- One bay leaf
- Garlic cloves
- Dill (stalks, flowers, and leaf)
- Red pepper flake
- Decide how many pickles you can eat in the next few days… Really! You don’t want to make a ton, these are not the same kind of shelf stable that you get at the grocery store. Try to eat them within a week. Once you have decided, select a jar to fit that many cucumbers. We used a large pickle jar and it fit 12 easily. We also made some for friends, used a typical size mason jar which fit six small cucumbers.
- Place the pickles in the jar and cover them with cool water. Yes they will float but push them down and see how much water it needs to just cover all the cucs.
- Then measure the water you put in. We did this by pouring the water out into a measuring cup.
- You will need approx two tablespoons of kosher salt per liter of water. There is a cup to liter conversion below. Don’t be afraid to add a little more or less… just play!
- Once you have measured out your salt, dissolve it in hot water. This makes it easier for the salt to work.
- Now that it is dissolved, DON’T PUT IT ON THE CUCUMBERS! Whoah! Why the yelling, Talia? Because I don’t want you to have mushy pickles! We like them nice and crunchy and the warm water will make them soft. Okay, now that we have calmed down, put some ice in that hot, salty water and cool it off.
- While it is cooling off throw the rest of the ingredients on top of the cucumbers in the jar.
- Throw some coriander seeds in the jar… NOT TOO MANY! It is a great flavor but should be secondary.
- Put some black peppercorns in the jar also. Again, don’t go crazy.
- Toss a bay leaf on there. You can crack it in half first but Dan says just toss it in.
- Two or three garlic cloves for a small jar, six or seven for a large jar (depends on how garlicky you want your pickles). Cut them in half first.
- Dill time. Dill + cucumbers + salt = the flavor you love in pickles! So I recommend getting fresh, smelly dill from a farmers market. If you can get the stalks and flowers in addition to the typical dill leaves (the stringy things you think of as dill), your pickles will be very happy. The stronger the dill smells, the better! Put half a head of flowers in a small jar or a head or two in a large one. Break some stalks into the jar and add the leaves.
- Be very light handed with the red pepper flake. Just a quick shake… not much. You don’t want them too spicy!
- The water should be cool by now so pour the salt water in and then fill the jar with cool/cold water. Remember how many cups you put in before? Yes, same number. It should just cover the cucumbers.
- If you are using a large jar and the cucumbers won’t stay submerged, place a glass or bowl in the water to help keep them down.
- Let them sit on the counter for two-ish days. By the second day you should see some bubbles forming on surfaces in the jar and the water should start to be cloudy. This is GOOD! After two days, take one out and try it. Once the water is pretty cloudy, put them in the refrigerator. This slows the process down.
This is a total experiment and eat project. Have no fear if they don’t come out perfect… they continue to pickle as the days go on. But don’t leave them out of the fridge too long or you will end up with full sours… unless you want full sours!
Let me know how yours come out!
Cup to liter conversion:
August 31, 2016
August 25, 2016
March 05, 2015