Rainbow was selling a bag of cucumbers for $0.99, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to experiment with some pickling. I'd read that one can "pickle" onions by submerging them in pickle brine after you're through with your pickles (I know, not totally authentic, but economical, eh?). So I stole some brine from my Bubbies pickles and combined it with pickling spices, garlic and really salty hot water...
Keeping fingers crossed for a tasty result. A bit concerned about lack of vinegar in the recipe I used. But I got it off the Internet, so it's gotta be solid, right?
(If anyone wants to jump in here and warn me before I open up a giant jar of botulism, feel free...)
(This makes me all the more motivated to organize a pickling party with an expert to guide us!)
One of our readers, Alicia, is a pickle expert (I know, awesome): she hosted a booth at Maker Faire about pickling and was even featured in an article in the Chron recently. She was kind enough to take the time to put my mind at ease:
You don't need to worry about botulism at all, that's only a problem if you're canning something that isn't acidic (think canned corn). Pickles make their own acid through the fermentation process as you probably know. I've never tried re-using a commercial brine but in theory it should work fine. Just be sure that everything stays submerged in the brine all the time.
I went ahead and tasted my pickles. I opened the jar and there was an explosion of fizz -- a LOT of fizz. So much that I had to run to the sink with my hopefully-non-toxic mason jar as pickle juices went everywhere. After the fizzing subsided, I gave it a cautious sniff and pulled out a pickle. My first bite also exploded in fizz, which kinda scared me (OK, I spit it out), but also fascinated me. I love the pickles that fizz when you take that first bite. Especially the kind that don't carry botulism. I went on to finish my first-ever homemade (by me) pickle. Tasty!
And... I'm still standing. That, in my book, equals success.
Stay tuned for updates on our pickling party!