Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vindaloo's pickles

Perfect for snacking, perfect for those holiday relish trays, perfect for gifting.  What's more, beautiful to look at.  That's the wonder of Vindaloo's pickles.

You may have seen or even tasted a recipe that circulates called Texas Christmas Pickles.  I've heard about them for awhile now, and just tasted them the other day.  OK, they're tasty.  But I am always challenged to recreate and to up the ante.  I think I have.  I wanted a more beautiful, green, crisp pickle.  I wanted less sugar and a clean, spicy note without cloudy brine.  I managed to get what I wanted, which is something my husband thinks I have elevated to an art form in general.  But get this: my husband, who does not even like pickles, said when he tasted them that they were pretty good. Wow!  A recommendation from a non-pickle person is top-drawer!

These pickles are as easy as it gets.  They are pretty in the jar and are very tasty.  They are perfect to make now and to give for the holidays.  Your recipients will return the jars to you and then ask if there are more.  Guaranteed.

Here is the procedure:

Buy one gallon of sliced dill pickles.  Make sure you get them in a glass jar if you plan to pickle the whole gallon in the same jar; otherwise, you can divide them up into smaller pint or quart jars.

Drain the pickles and reserve the brine.  Either return the pickles to the glass gallon jar, or divide evenly among smaller canning jars that have been sterilized.  Have your lids and rings ready.

Bring the reserved brine to a boil and add 6 cups of sugar, 2 Tbs. dehydrated chopped garlic (I get mine from Penzey's) and 2 Tbs. Tabasco sauce.  You can use garlic powder if you wish, but I find that it has a funky taste when it rehydrates.  You can always use real garlic, roughly chopped.

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer the brine. 

While the brine was coming to a boil, I put a dried red chili along the side of each jar, along with a spear of fresh carrot and a peeled clove of garlic.  The red, orange and white against the green of the pickles is very striking.

Fill the jar(s) with brine and screw on caps and lids but do not fully tighten.  Wait for about 30 minutes to tighten completely, then invert the jar(s) and put in your refrigerator for 24 hours.  After that, they are ready to eat.

A note about food safety:  These pickles will last for up to one month in your refrigerator.  After that, you may have a science experiment on your hands.  However, I don't think they'll last that long if you are giving some away and eating your share.  You can, of course, process them and seal them for longer shelf life if you have canning equipment.  But my advice is to just eat them very quickly, then make more!

Enjoy your pickles, and may your tastebuds dance.

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