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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Mustard Pickles

My mom used to make these incredible mustard pickles. They weren't crunchy, but they were like spreading chunky mustard goodness on hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, vegetables, roast, just about anything. My family has a thing for mustard. One of my brothers used to make himself mustard sandwiches - a slab of bread overflowing with mustard, nothing else. My mom bought mustard by the gallon and still couldn't keep any on hand. So when my neighbor gifted me a huge bowl of giant cucumbers (I can't grow these either, I have a black thumb of death when it comes to plants - see the zucchini muffin post from last week), my first thought was, I can make mustard pickles out of these! Because that's what my mom did when the cucumbers grew overnight from way to small to enormous. She chopped those puppies up and turned them into mustard pickles that we devoured.

This recipe was easy. I didn't have onions on hand so I substituted a couple of fresh jalapeños and banana peppers. My kids don't mind a kick to their mustard. I now have eight jars of mustard pickles waiting in my basement. I haven't tasted them yet, because pickles need time to develop good flavor. **Update - my kids couldn't wait. They pulled out a jar of these pickles after only two weeks (I write the posts several weeks ahead, so I don't get caught with nothing to post) and they were delicious - crispy, crunchy, slightly spicy, with a very mellow mustard flavor.

(The recipe comes from this old pickle recipe book I found at a used book store a few years ago. They just don't make pickle recipe books like this anymore but you can still buy used copies online.)

Mustard Pickles

6 pounds of cucumbers, sliced (use a scale if you have one, it's about 18 medium to large cucumbers)
1 c. finely diced fresh peppers - jalapeños or banana peppers are great (tip - use gloves when handling spicy peppers) (the recipe called for 1 pound of sliced onions, you choose which you'd rather add)
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. pickling salt (this is uniodized so it won't discolor your pickles)
1/2 t. turmeric
2 T. cornstarch
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 c. yellow mustard (the prepared stuff, not mustard powder)
3 c. vinegar (5% acidity, white vinegar in the gallon jug is fine)
1 c. water

Scrub the cucumbers thoroughly before slicing. Remove blossom and stem ends. If they are really fat, you may want to slice them into quarters the long way, then into 1/4" slices. Pile the cucumbers in a bowl and set aside.

Wash eight pint jars. Leave sitting in a sink full of the hottest water you can stand, steaming is a good sign. Or you can use your dishwasher's heated drying cycle. You want the jars hot and you want to keep them hot.

In a very large pot (at least 2 gallons, I use my giant stew pot/past cooker), mix the sugar, salt, turmeric, cornstarch, ginger, and black pepper. Add the mustard, vinegar, water, and hot peppers. Stir until the lumps are mostly gone. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until mixture boils. Add cucumber slices. Have fun trying to stir it. I ended up lifting the cucumbers up from the bottom with a big scooping spoon thing with holes in it. Bring it back to a boil. Remove from heat. Scoop cucumbers into the jars, packing them up to 1/2 inch below the rim. Pour the liquid in the pot into the jars to finish filling the spaces. (I ended up with about 1/4 c. of sauce left over.) Clean the rims of the jars and top with new, clean lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes if you're at sea level, 20 minutes if you're at my altitude (~5500 ft). Remove the bottles from the boiling water bath and let them stand on the counter until completely cooled. Check the seals before labeling and storing in a cool, dry, dark place. Let them sit for at least two weeks before devouring. For more information on home canning, please check this site out.

Bonus recipe! Because I really want to try this out sometime. I told you about my mustard addiction, didn't I?

Home-Made Mustard

2 1/2 oz. mustard powder
2 T. sugar
2 t. salt
4 T. vinegar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. olive oil
dash tabasco sauce

Mix mustard powder, sugar, and salt. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well. Store covered in the refrigerator.