This recipe is basic: cucumbers, vinegar, sugar and pickling spice. Personalize these pickles by coming up with your own spice mix instead of using a prepared one. Chef Carole Greenwood makes her own with whole allspice, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, crushed red pepper flakes and crushed bay leaves.
These pickle chips need to start with a brine; after processing, they need a month of curing time. Refrigerate after opening.
Servings: 4 quarts
- For the brine
- 2 to 4 cups salt
- 2 to 2 1/2 gallons water
- For the pickle chips
- 7 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch slices and brined
- 8 cups cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- 8 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons homemade or store-bought pickling spice mix
For the brine: Soaking the cucumber slices in brine beforehand imparts saltiness and keeps the slices from shriveling in the hot syrup. It is best to brine them overnight, covered, in a cool, dark place. But you can also quick-brine them for an hour by using extra salt in a large, nonreactive container. For a quick brine, dissolve 4 cups of salt in 2 gallons of water; for a slow brine, dissolve 2 cups of salt in 2 1/2 gallons of water.
To prepare for canning: Wash the 4 quart jars, their lids and bands in hot, soapy water (180 degrees); rinse well. Dry the bands; set aside. Sterilize the jars by boiling for 10 minutes. Heat the lids and bands in a saucepan of hot water, keeping them hot until ready to use. Do not boil the lids.
Fill the canner halfway with water. Preheat the water (140 degrees for raw-packed foods, 180 degrees for hot-packed foods) over medium heat.
Meanwhile, place the vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the cucumbers and return to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Place a teaspoon of pickling spice in each sterilized, still hot, quart-size jar, then pack with cucumbers and fill with syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. The syrup should cover the pickle chips completely.
Use a nonreactive spatula or chopsticks to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims and necks of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Center a heated lid on each of the jars. Screw the bands on evenly and loosely just until a point of resistance is met (fingertip tight). Load the filled jars, fitted with lids, into the canner rack and use the handles to lower the rack into the water; or fill the canner, 1 jar at a time, with a jar lifter. Cover with the canner lid. Increase the heat to high until the water boils vigorously. Set a timer for 40 minutes. Add hot water as needed to keep the water level at least 1 inch above the jars. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle boil.
When the processing is complete, transfer the jars from the canner to sit upright on a clean dish towel to cool; do not retighten the bands. Let the jars cool on the towel for 12 to 24 hours.
When the jars are cool, test for a good seal by pressing the center of each lid. If the lid does not flex up and down, it is sealed. Label and store the jars in a cool, dark place. Let the pickle chips cure for 1 month before serving. Refrigerate after opening.
From chef Carole Greenwood.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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