Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Monday, September 17, 2012

German Bread and Butter Fridge Pickles (Einmachguerken)

To kick off this week of German cooking I am going to share with you a recipe for German pickles which I made last week and have been “pickling” in the fridge.   The original recipe calls for a high pressure process or a boiling water bath, but you can opt out of the heat process if you immediately refrigerate when the jars cool.   I like the fridge process because the pickles are more crunchy.   They should be consumed however inside a two week window, remaining refrigerated.   Unlike heat processed pickles they can not be shelved.

The recipe is inspired by Rita Bergstrom’s recipe found in her cookbook “Taste of Old Germany”

Before I share the recipe, however, let us first talk about how to prep for making the pickles.   It is extremely important that the jars, lid and rings be sterilized.   Here is a link which explains the process very well: Fridge pickles 101, by Kate Payne.

Okay, now if you are comfortable with the sterilizing process, you will need:

2 to 4 (depending on how many cucumbers you have) Quart Mason Jars, lids and rings - Washed and Boiled.
Pickling cucumbers
½ Cup coarse Kosher salt
1 Gallon cold water
Pickling Spice (you can buy pickling spice in the store, or you can make your own) see recipe below.
Scant 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds for each jar
1 onion, peeled and cut into large slivers
1 to 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large sticks  (depending on how many jars you will be using)
2 Quarts white vinegar
4 Quarts water
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons salt


First, the evening before you want to pickle your freshly picked cucumbers, wash and cut off the ends.  Soak at least 12 hours in saltwater (1/2 cup coarse Kosher salt per 1 gallon of water).   The salt soak will keep them crunchy.  Do this by placing the cucumbers in a large non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic) and then covering them with the saltwater mixture.   Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and then place the bowl in the refrigerator.  

The next morning, in a large stainless steel pot, combine the 2 quarts vinegar, 4 quarts water, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil.   Note:  when heating pickling liquid, do not use copper, brass, iron, or galvanized utensils, as these could react with acids, causing product quality and safety issues.

While the brine mixture is warming up to a boil, remove each cucumber individually from the saltwater and rinse with cold running water.  Then arrange them whole in quart jars that have been washed, and boiled.  Then, to each jar add an onion sliver ,two carrot sticks, scant 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds, and a teaspoon of pickling spice.   Then when the brine has come to a boil, ladle into jars, leaving a ½ inch head space.  Wipe jar tops and threads clean.  Then place a hot sterilized lid on each and screw down with hot sterilized rings tightly.  

Allow the jars to come to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator.   Allow the cucumbers to “pickle” for at least two or three days before tasting.  

Note:  If you want to process for longer storage use the heat method of your choice.   If using pressure, allow to come up to 13.    If using a boiling water canner, process for 15 minutes after water comes to a boil.

Enjoy !!!

I like to cut at an angle 1 to 2 inch sections when the pickles are ready to eat.

 Here is a link for the cookbook: "Taste of Old Germany"

Here is the recipe for pickling spice - this mix should be enough for about 20 one pint jars of pickles.

3 Tablespoons crushed bay leaves
3 Tablespoons black peppercorns
3 Tablespoons whole allspice
3 Tablespoons coriander seeds
3 Tablespoons mustard seeds
3 Tablespoons juniper berries
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Tablespoon dill seed
1 Cinnamon stick, broken into tiny pieces

Pour all the spices into a jar, seal, and shake to combine.  Use any time a mixed pickling spice is called for.

I found this recipe in a cookbook I bought recently titled “Food in Jars” written by Marisa McClellan.   It is the spice mixture I used for the German Bread and Butter Pickles.    
Here is a link for the cookbook.   "Food in Jars" by Marisa McClellan

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