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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homemade Claussen Style Pickles

Perhaps you have a little garden with tons of pickling cucumbers in the works, or perhaps, you're like we were last year, with a little garden where the pickling cucumbers used to grow, until the ground hog ate them all. We tried to plant some more but the stores had all run out, so, we went to the Royal Oak Farmer's Market and they had a great deal on pickling cucumbers. It was something like a dollar or two for a few big grocery sacks full of "funny shaped" pickling cucumbers, which worked perfect for us - who cares if your pickles are curved and irregular?

The reason we were trying to grow pickling cucumbers in our newly built raised garden bed was to try out pickling pickles for the first time. I had scoped out a few recipes online and decided to go with my favorite type of pickle to eat - the Claussen style dill pickles in the refrigerator case at the store. Any kind of pickle like that, including the super fancy and tasty McClures or other pickle-makers who pop up at farmer's markets, are super tasty! The kind of pickles I really don't like are those yellow mushy ones in the canned food section of the grocery store.. except the sweet gherkins which are always good. Anyhoo, I found this post by Foodie With Family post about Claussen Pickles and wanted to give it a go. It seemed easy enough!

We found the ingredients except I could only find regular dill at Holiday Market, boo!.. and then set off to make a large 2 gallon batch on the same day that I was also trying a new homemade salsa recipe to can.

The outcome turned out pretty good, these are also known as Lithuanian half sours and my mom said that my grandma used to make them like this too, and she's Ukrainian, so maybe they are Ukrainian half sours, also. Definitely something reminiscent of the "Old Country." This made a TON of pickles, and I had to give a ton away, luckily my parents love love love pickles. They last about 6 months in the fridge. There are a few other versions of a similar knock-off Claussen pickle recipe. I might try a different one next time!

Here is the recipe that Foodie With A Family has posted:

Homemade Claussen Knock-Off Pickles

Yield: 2 gallons of pickles
Always crunchy and garlicky, this perfect homemade pickle requires no special equipment, no canning experience and tastes just like Claussen's refrigerated kosher dill pickles.
  • 35 to 40 small to medium pickling cucumbers
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices
  • 2/3 c. canning or kosher salt (Do NOT use iodized salt!)
  • 4 cloves garlic or more, to taste
  • 4 fresh dill heads ~or~ 4 tablespoons dried dill seed (not weed!)
Wash cucumbers but do not scrub them.
Trim 1/8-inch from the blossom end of each cucumber and slice in half lengthwise or into quarters, depending on how large your cucumbers are and how big you want them to be when they're done.
In a gallon jar (or large, wide-mouth, food-safe container) layer the dill heads or seed, garlic cloves and sliced cucumbers.
In a separate pitcher or bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until the salt is dissolved.
Pour the brine over the cucumbers, taking care to make sure all of them are fully submerged. If needed, place a plate or mug or other non-reactive heavy item on the cucumbers to weigh them down and keep them under the brine!
Cover lightly with a lid just perched on top or secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.
Leave out of direct sunlight on the counter for two to four days*, or until the cucumbers taste like pickles throughout.
Fix your lid onto your jar or container and chill. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months provided you keep them covered with brine.
*If at any point in the proceedings "fuzz" or "foam" develops on top of the brine, use a spoon to remove it. If there is "fuzz" attached to any of the cucumbers, remove the ones affected and be sure the others are still fully submerged.