Fire and Ice Pickles
**Please note: all food posts are from my previous blog The Flexitarian Kitchen. I've kept them here because... well, they're good recipes. And it's late. And I'm tired of adjusting my settings. Think of these recipes as the free prize in the bottom of the cereal box!
I debated whether or not to post this recipe, because I'd much rather blog something warm, and hearty, and fall-ish at this time of year. But I'm making these right now myself, and they're so entirely addictive that I just had to share them. Besides, pickles are holiday food... kinda. Pickles need to be on your holiday table, right next to the candied sweet potatoes and the tofurkey. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if kids aren't allowed to root around in a pickle dish with black-olive-covered fingers, they'll grow up warped and angry. And who wants that on their conscience?
Also, these pickles make great, inexpensive gifts. People get really impressed when you say you made them some homemade pickles... And even though these are only halfway homemade, your secret will always be safe with me.
Two disclaimers: 1) I do not normally like sweet pickles. But I LOVE these pickles, and - go figure - they're sweet. But they're not just sweet. They're sweet and sour and spicy and garlicky and really crunchy, and complex... and all I can say is that we should keep being open to new food experiences or we'll grow old and stodgy before our time.
Fire and Ice Pickles: Good
Old and Stodgy Before Your Time: Bad
Disclaimer #2: I did not invent this recipe. But I wish I had. And if I ever find the person who did, I'll recommend them for canonization.
And without further yammering on my part, I give you...
Fire and Ice Pickles
Here's what you're gonna buy:
1/2 gallon jar of whole dill pickles.
Now. I cannot emphasize to you enough that these need to be cheap pickles. The soggy kind of pickles. The ones that sit in dusty rows on the bottom of the pickle shelf because outside of a General Store no one would ever actually want to eat one. Other strange things on the General Store counter would include Pickled Eggs in a weird, reddish brine; Pickled Pigs Feet in Ditto; "Meat Stix" made from parts of the animal that God never meant to be eaten, and gold foil-wrapped chocolate "ice cubes."
Who eats this stuff?
Anyway, I digress. We were talking about pickles.
If you go out and buy the expensive Clausson, guaranteed-crisp pickles then you are setting yourself up for an Epic Pickle Fail, and I won't be held responsible. Get the cheap ones, and make sure they're whole.
Next: a head of garlic. Peel the cloves.
1 2-oz bottle of hot sauce. And yes, it needs to be Tabasco. I ruined a batch with off-brand hot sauce recently. Never again. Never again.
2 lbs of white sugar.
Now let's get pickled! **snerk**
Drain off all the smelly pickle brine and let it go right down the drain. Unless you want to save it to pickle eggs in. Blech.
Slice the whole pickles into 1" chunks. They should be pretty fat.
Now you're going to make layers in the original half gallon jar. Here's how you're gonna do it:
A layer of pickle chunks
2-4 cloves of garlic
Several good shakes of hot sauce
Cover it all with a blanket of sugar.
Repeat until it's all used up.
You'll have to work at the end to get all the sugar into the jar, but you can do it. I believe in you! It looks like a lot of sugar, but don't have a diabetic crisis yet: most of it doesn't get eaten.
Now you have a weird-looking specimen jar of bizarre layers and colors that is going to morph into a strangely delicious concoction over the next few days.
By the way, there should not be any liquid in the jar at this point. Besides the hot sauce, of course.
The way the magic works is that the sugar is going to pull a lot of the water out of the soggy, cheap pickles, creating its own brine, and transforming those mush nuggets into crispy chunks o'goodness. Within a few hours your jar will be full of liquid. It's like a pickle miracle!
Now set your jar aside and go do something else.
Tomorrow, turn it upside down.
The next day, turn it right side up.
Do this for 5 days. In five days they'll be perfect, and ready to eat!
Actually, that's just what they tell me. They've never lasted more than 3 days in our house. After 3 days I have to try one. Just to see how they're coming along. Just to be sure.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I'm so weak.
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