Right now the little pickling cukes are very plentiful at the market, so these are what I'm focusing on at the moment.
I'm very curious to find out from experienced pickle-makers (not quick pickles, but jarred and processed ones with a shelf life):
- How do you maintain crunch? I just read about and tried the "slow pasteurization" method, where instead of processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, you process at a simmer (exactly 180 degrees) for 30 minutes, which supposedly keeps things crunchy. (I haven't opened these jars yet... fingers crossed). Anyone try both these methods and seen a difference?
- What is your usual water-vinegar ratio in the brine? The first recipe I ever used (from the Bernardin - Canada's answer to Ball - home canning book) for sliced, spicy pickles was 100 per cent vinegar and they obviously turned out crazy sour - horrible. But maybe they will mellow in a few months?? Then I read online that you should have a 1:1 ration for food safety reasons. But then I've seen tons of recipes in my preserving books and online that use all kinds of ratios, some with very little vinegar. I'd be very interested to hear any thoughts on this and what ratios have worked best for people in the past.
- And finally: I've made a few batches now and seem to always need to frantically cook up more brine than the recipe calls for as I run out before I've filled all my jars. Am I not adding enough cucumbers to the jars - how tightly should they be packed? Or is something else going on?