Step 1: Buy Stuff
Here is the stuff that you will have to buy this time. The good news is, you can probably re-use everything (except for the vegetables) a few times to make more and more pickles! (Such a bounty of pickles you will have!)
-Mason Jars with Lids (You can get these at most hardware stores and of course from the internet. I recommend the 1.5 pint jars or larger. Remember, you get bonus hipster points for using vintage mason jars, or just saying they're vintage because they were free on Craigslist).
*Stuff for Making Brine *
(Note: the recipe below is enough brine to fill *two* mason jars. Multiply as needed.)
-1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar with 5% acidity (Get the hippy looking kind that says "raw" or "with the mother" or has the Moral ABCs written on it)
-1 Cup Distilled White Vinegar with 5% acidity
-2 Cups Water
-3 teaspoons salt
*You can mess around with the ingredients below & substitute spices to taste*
-3 teaspoons black pepper
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-2 teaspoons powdered mustard
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1 teaspoon thyme
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1 teaspoon tumeric
-1 teaspoon sugar (add more if you want sweeter pickles)
*The Great List of Things You Can Pickle*
Please add your own suggestions below.
-Cucumbers (get different kinds for a different crunch)
-Carrots or baby carrots
-Roasted Beets (you have to roast them before pickling. Short version: cut the tops off, cover them in olive oil, put them in foil and stick them in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender)
-Cooked Asparagus Spears
-Green and Red Tomato
-Fresh herbs (these will help add flavor to the brine)
Technically you can pickle just about anything, but these are a few guaranteed to work options that don't require a lot of tweaking to the brine given in this recipe. Feel free to add your own wacky suggestions or passionately debate the legitimacy of items on this list in the space below.
Step 2: Prepare the Veg!
I recommend preparing some slices of chili (jalapeno or serrano) and peeling some cloves of garlic to toss in to the jars if you want spicy pickles.
While there's not much to say for this step, it is undoubtedly the longest part of the process with the greatest potential for making you rue the day you decided to make pickles. Still, think of the work those poor pickles have to do, drowned in their fermented bath, transforming, changing until not even their fellow vegetables recognize them, only to meet a bitter end decapitated by the blades of your shiny white teeth! Now that's trauma!
Photo is not mine because knitting scares me. It is from the portion of the internet located here: http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/ko/knit-pickles-nicole-lg.jpg
Step 3: Make the Brine
*Making The Brine*
Heat 2 cups water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, and 1 cup apple cider vinegar together in a pot. Add 3 teaspoons salt, as well as spices and herbs to taste. Cook until the salt has dissolved or until you get impatient.
Here is a photo of some nice old ladies making brine back in the humble 1950s.
Step 4: Put Everything Into Jars
Once you've arranged your vegetables in their respective jars, I recommend adding some additional fresh herbs and spices to help season them uniquely. You can add: sprigs of tarragon, bay leaves, sliced pepper, pepper corn, cloves of garlic, and slices of onion to change the flavor.
Now it's time to add the brine. Pour the brine into the jars making sure there is enough brine in each jar to cover the veggies. If the brine hasn't cooled, give it an hour or so before putting the lids on (again, there is some crazy debate over how cold / warm your brine should be. If you're just putting them in the fridge, this should not matter much. However, if you're the type of dude or lady who craves crazy debates over ideal food preparation, feel free to chime in below). Make sure you put the lids on tight! Then add some crazy labels so you know what's in what (or if you'd rather leave it a mystery, just label each one: "?"). Feel free to use the power of suggestion when labeling your pickles. "The Most Delicious Pickles To Have Ever Been Pickled" and "OMG These Are Freaking Amazing Pickles!" are both good pickle labels. Additional suggestions below:
Step 5: Bath Time!
Step 6: Squirrel Away All the Pickles
-Make a pyramid of the jars and call it the pickle pyramid. Stand behind the pickle pyramid like the great god of pickles giving the thumbs up to the pickle planet below. Caption: "No one is really sure who constructed the pyramids, but I'm pretty sure it was THIS guy."
-Arrange your pickles on the porch swing. Add bows and tiny shoes to taste. Caption: "Quintuplets" (edit caption to accurately reflect the number of pickle jars portrayed.)
-Place all your pickle jars inside the confines of your pajamas, arranged as if it were your body lying in them. Tuck the pickle jars in the pajamas into bed. Wait for your man or lady friend to come home and watch as hilarity ensues! Caption: "And that was when I realized it was time for a divorce."
Pro Tip: Fermentation photography is an up-and-coming field in the art world. Feel free to experiment and who knows, someday you could be the next Jackson Pollock!
Once you have documented them in their unspoilt juvenile state, squirrel your pickles away, hiding them from friends and loved ones who would attempt to devour them before their prime. Sleep soundly knowing you have a stock pile of highly acidic vegetables just waiting for you should your mouth require a rustic vacation into the sensational outback known as Pickle Land. Try to resist the temptation to eat all the pickles within a week. No good will come from it. Remember, the torture of waiting adds to their overall flavor. The reason pickles are so salty is because they are seasoned by the tears of joy and relief that come from waiting weeks and weeks for a minute or two of intense satisfaction: a model which can and should be applied to how we treat ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us.
May the fermentation be with you.