Putting up with each other: Indian Spiced Pickles

Spices awaiting pickles at the bottom of a big jar!

These Indian Spiced Pickles were part of a marathon afternoon/evening in which JB and Callista powered through a ton of pickling and preservation projects!  Ish got hectic.  We pickled snap peas, froze, and blanched an impressive amount of green things.  But this post is reserved for Indian Spiced Pickles.
JB was pumped about Indian Spiced pickles in particular because our book club is reading Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.  In the novel, the family’s pickle business, Paradise Pickles and Preserves, features prominently.  These pickles will be a snack for when our book club meets at the end of August!

We tracked down this recipe for Indian Spiced Pickles from Pickle Me Too, and ran with it!  Using a bunch of fresh organic cucumbers from JB’s farm, we first made sure that the cukes would fit in our Giant Pickling Jar.  We packed ’em in just to make sure…

Fitting the cukes in the jar – they fit!

After making sure that our pickles-to-be would fit in our pickling vessel of choice, we were careful to slice off the blossom ends of each of the cucumbers in order to preserve their crispness, since blossoms can contain an enzyme that softens the pickles.  How does one tell which side is the blossom end and which is the stem end of a cucumber?  If the cucumber

Pointing out the blossom end

has a stem attached, its self-evident: the end without the stem is the blossom end.  If no stem is attached, you can look for the end with the rough dot (instead of the smooth, indented dot) to slice off – that’s the blossom end.

Next, after giving them a good rise, we put the cucumbers (with their blossom ends sliced off) back in the jar, filling it with cold water and letting it sit for about an hour.  According to the recipe we used, this step can be skipped if our cukes were especially fresh-picked.  Truthfully, they had been sitting around in the fridge, mixed up with a variety of other green goodies for a day or two, so we decided to soak our not-quite-farm-fresh cucumbers for the requisite hour before continuing with our pickling process.  While we waited, we prepped snap peas for pickling, and JB, Shane, and Sleepy C bleached their hair.

Sleepy C with his newly-bleached hair, sporting his sweet Wood Spider tee

Running cold tap water to cover the cukes for soaking

After the hour had passed, we were ready to move onto our next pickling step.  We drained the water out of the jar and removed the cucumbers, setting them aside for the time being.

Spices at the bottom of our pickling jar

In the bottom of our now- empty Giant Pickling Jar, we dumped our spices: fenugreek seed, cumin seed, dried chiles, four crushed garlic cloves, ginger, and turmeric powder (we didn’t have the root available to put in.)  We added tea leaves to keep our pickles crisp.  Next, we packed our pickles-to-be into the jar, filling the whole thing with 3-5% salt brine.  Making the salt brine was an inexact science – when we dumped all the brine we had prepared in and it failed to cover all of the cucumbers, we simply mixed some more salt and water together (undoubtedly creating a >5% salt brine) and added the new, saltier brine to the large jar until it was full.

Cukes in the jar, beginning to pickle!

Covering our pickles with a towel

Our last step was to cover the jar.  As we did with our beet green kimchi, we used the weight of a smaller jar filled with water to push down the contents of our jar of food.  We placed a smaller mason jar (lidded and filled with water) directly on top of the pickles-to-be, partially immersed in the brine.  We then draped a towel over the whole affair, securing the towel around the lip of our Giant Pickling Jar to prevent pesky fruit flies from setting up shop in our pickles.

Last but not least…we wait!  We left these pickles on our kitchen counter to do their thing.  They should be ready in time to be enjoyed as a snack at our book club….