The recipe I decided on uses the following ingredients:
* Fresh cucumbers
* pickling salt
* jalapeno peppers
* grape leaves (fresh)
* whole peppercorns
* whole garlic cloves (peeled)
* fresh dill sprigs
* white vinegar (5% distilled - commonly sold in stores)
* crushed red peppers
The first major issue was finding a canning pot. Buying one new was more of an investment than I wanted to make for a first pass, just in case I wanted nothing to do with this ever again. If I enjoy making pickles, I will find one for next year. Luckily, one of the mom's in the Ellensburg Mom's group had one that she was willing to part with for a weekend. Thanks, Jennifer!
The next blocking issue was finding grape leaves. After reading some sites, grape leaves are not absolutely necessary, but they do make the pickles crisp. Luckily for me, Dad is growing grapes and I asked him if I could have a handful. I'm a fan of crisp pickles, so this was a must try.
Finally, I needed to find some cucumbers. I bought just under 2 dozen from the farmer's market this Saturday. I also found some dill, but no peppers. On Friday, while weeding our garden, we had 8 great looking cucumbers that weren't too big. I decided to pickle those, as well. Pete found some peppers at a fruit stand in Thorp on Saturday since they were out at the market. I don't know what I used, but the owner said they were hot.
The pickling wasn't that hard. You prepare your cucumbers, stuff the sterilized jars and boil your brine. Then add the brine and put the jars into the canning pot. 15 minutes and take them out to cool. I ended up doing 2 batches and only 2 of the jars didn't seal. I also made some pickled dill green beans for Pete. This was a suggestion from Dina over the phone the other night. I am seriously missing the over the fence conversations.
The pickles look good! I'll open a jar in about a week and try some. My guess is the pickles will be hot. My fingers are still stinging from pushing some dill into one of the open jars after I had added the brine. The hot peppers had already made an impression on the cucumbers. I completely forgot to add the peppercorns, but I think they will still be hot.
The jar in the photo uses cucumbers from our garden. It is the prettiest jar in the batch. The pickling cucumbers really shrunk during the processing and seem to float to the top of the jars. The cucumbers from my garden were just mature, without a lot of seeds, but they were significantly larger than the pickling cucumbers.
Since this was an experiment, I made rounds, spears and whole pickles. I pricked the whole cucumbers with a fork to make sure they got some flavor into them.