Pickles 101

Being raised in a Polish family, naturally pickles are a part of this Kitty's culinary vocabulary. This is not unique to the Poles, but there is such a thing as "Polish Dill Pickles". So let's not quibble. The home you are born into is your world, and my world was distinctly Polish; in a Polish neighborhood. So Polish, my part of town was called Poletown. Alas, no more. They paved paradise and put up — in this case — a Cadillac car plant. Anyhow, pickle-wise (which I unashamedly am) you could say pickles of all types were part of my vaccination regimen. It's in my blood. Vampires seem to stay away. Too sour. Now, don't you wish you were Polish too?

So I know from pickles ...

There are two types of pickles: 1. Fermented. 2. Refrigerator.

Please learn the distinction and you will forever sing my praises. Not the least of which it the pure fact that you will be enjoying some really good and tasty homemade pickles.

This is an overview. At the bottom of each section is a link to the full spiel to get you going on the road to Pickledom. 

1. Fermented Pickles are fermented. Raw vegetables in a saline brine left to ferment and sour. Easy as pie once you crack your pickle cherry and just go ahead and do it. 

The secret is in the brine. The proportion of salt to water. 2 Tablespoons per quart of water. That's around 3.5% salinity by weight. And — CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT — the kind of salt and the kind of water. Salt with no Iodine. Pickling salt, or Kosher. Water without Chlorine. Spring water, or boiled tap water (removes the chlorine.) Those two elements will retard/fail the fermentation process. 

Remember too, fermentation is an anaerobic process. Pickles (any vegetable) being processed with fermentation must be kept under the brine liquid.

2. Refrigerator Pickles are made in a vinegar based brine. If you search the Internet you'll see lots of recipes. And, the use of lots of vinegar. Too much for even this Kitten's taste. Here's all's you ever be needing to know about vinegar brine: Brine Ratio ... 1 Cup Vinegar : 2 Cups water. 

Memorize that.

Refrigerator pickles are just about any vegetable or hard fruit processed in a hot brine flavored to your liking. Boil brine, pour over vegetables, let cool. Put in the fridge. Next day ... enjoy. Depending on the type of vegetable being processed you may want to par boil in the brine to tenderize.