The recipe is from Smith & Hawken Gardeners' Community Cookbook. Published when S&H was still in business and hadn't been sold off in parts to places like Target. And when they sold cotton Japanese Farmer pants which G is still wearing after all these years. Lots and lots of mending but still good after all this time--20 plus years.
I used most of the cucumbers I had in the fridge (finding two small ones under the colander while washing dishes), the two small red peppers from the garden (it's amazing--I find exactly what I need out there--no more, no less), the garlic I grew and the last of the onions I pulled out of the garden (there are more). In keeping with "just enough" I had just enough white vinegar and used the last of the dill seeds I dried 2 summers ago.
Makes two quart jars or one half gallon jar. I usually make the pickles in the half gallon jar.
2 cups distilled white vinegar, 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt, let sit until sugar and salt dissolve. (I use pickling salt)
10 to 12 cucumbers with small seeds (about 2 pounds). Pickling or other varieties. Scrubbed clean (with peels) and sliced 1/8 inch thick. I use an inexpensive mandolin I got from TJ Maxx.
Slice one large onion, 1/2 a medium bell pepper (any color) or more if you like peppers. I use red and 2 cloves garlic. I have added jalapeño peppers in other years.
Measure 1T pickling spices and 2T dill seeds into a small bowl.
Wash your jar (jars) and I usually pour boiling water in the jar while I am slicing things. Start layering. A handful of cucumber slices, some onion, peppers a few garlic slices and a pinch of the spices. then repeat. If you have more than you think will fit, push the stuff down with your fingers. I could have added the other two cucumbers to my jar, if I had seen them in time.
Carefully pour in the vinegar (stir to make sure everything gets into the pickle jar) and then cap the jar. The liquid won't fill the jar. It's okay if it doesn't.
The process here takes about a week or more in the fridge. The jar needs to be turned upside down and then right side up several times during the processing time. To evenly distribute the pickling liquids. The first time I made this, I used a regular cap and liquid got out of the jar when it was upside down. Now I use a regular two piece canning jar lid. If you don't have canning supplies--just add a square of cling wrap under the lid to be safe.
NOW--here's where this gets interesting. My daughter asked me to try making this without the cucumbers but with cauliflower in small chunks. This was the only change I made in the recipe and it turned out better than the daughter had hoped as this is the way I make it for her every summer (and winter). Next batch we added carrot slices to the cauliflower. Still great. I think this could be made with whatever you have in the garden. Zucchini (small ones), GREEN TOMATOES, green beans--- anything. And you can make these pickles in the winter.
The taste? Well, its a different spin on a bread&butter. Not syrupy. More salty and vinegary. Still sweet. I make the regular sugary syrupy B&B's with very thinly sliced zucchini, onion, peppers and jalapeños and will never go back to making them with cucumbers. The zucchini is hands down crispier and more delicious.