Pickles made with beer.
Pilsner style beer, to be exact, but if you have a fave, by all means use that.
The pickle slices turn out sweet and just a little bit zippy, tho’, if you like, you could always ratchet up the spice by adding more garlic or crushed red pepper per jar…
Because the pickle seasoning can be customized by jar, which is kindofa genius move, to my way of thinking. Great aunt Maude like a sweet pickle? No worries, her jar gets next to no crushed red pepper. Second cousin (once- or twice-removed, who can keep track?) Bobo like things flaming hot? Add more crushed red pepper and garlic to his jar, and mebbe a couple of slices of jalapeño to his.
•8 cups cucumbers, roughly chopped
•2 cups chopped sweet onion
•5 cloves garlic, chopped
•12 oz beer
•1-3/4 cup water
•1-3/4 cup cider vinegar
•1-1/2 cup white vinegar
•1 cup honey
•1/4 cup pickling salt*
•1 tsp mustard seed, per jar
•1/2 tsp black peppercorns, per jar
•1/2 tsp pink peppercorns, per jar
•1/4 tsp celery seed, per jar
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper, per jar
•1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, per jar
*Yes, there is a difference between table and pickling salt. Pickling salt has no anti-caking (clumping) additives, which can turn your pickling liquid cloudy, or any added iodine, which can darken the pickling liquid.
Wash the cukes really well – especially if, like me, you’ve bought them from a farm stand. They will be far better than any you get at the market, but they will more than likely not have had the pre-scrub given to some commercially distributed produce.
Cut off the ends and slice the cukes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices (if your cukes are small), or into chunks (if your cukes are gigantic as some of mine were) and toss in a large bolw with the chopped sweet onion and garlic.
Add the beer, water, honey, cider and white vinegar to a large non reactive pot (anodized aluminum is OK, as is stainless steel, enamel, and non stick pots; regular aluminum cookware is not) along with the pickling salt.
Bring to a boil stirring, dissolving the honey into the pickling liquid, and skim off any foam forming on the surface.
Add the cucumber, onion, and garlic mixture to sterilized canning jars (as I noted above, this batch gave me enough for seven), then add mustard seed, assorted peppercorns and peppers, and celery seed as desired per jar.
Pour the hot pickling liquid over the contents of the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
Poke a wooden skewer or any other non-metal into each jar to break up any air pockets, then wipe the rims (I use a canning funnel, so can mostly skip this step), place prepared lids on each jar, and finger-tip tighten bands on each jar (use only the tips of your fingers to tighten the bands – they do not have to be wrestled on – or off – to seal the jars).
Place the jars in a boiling water bath (if you have mineral-y water, remember to add a cup or so of white vinegar to the water before boiling it – this will keep the minerals from attaching to the glass and giving you cloudy canning jars – perfectly safe, but not very attractive).
Process the jars for ten minutes once the water has returned to a boil, then remove and cool on a wire rack, listening to the ‘pop’ of the lids which indicates your jars have sealed. You can also puch a fingertip in the center of each lid once the jars have cooled; if it doesn’t move, your jars have sealed.
After about an hour, I like to turn the jars upside down for an hour or so, to help distribute the spices a bit better throughout each jar, then return the jars to upright to cool completely, and stash someplace for at least one week before serving.
They’ll be worth the wait.