What is a FFMTGSTTC post? It is a satire of Ben’s Garden to Table Challenge, a chronicling of my frustrations with trying to find fresh, locally grown vegetables, and the details of the resulting pickles that I made from it all.
For around a year now, I’ve wanted to make pickled cucumbers and peppers, a la Tony Packo’s. For those of you that might not know, Tony Packo’s is a restaurant in Toledo, OH that makes Hungarian style chili dogs, delicious chili that would offend Texans, and has a whole bunch of Hungarian foods available as side dishes. With every hot dog they serve, they include a handful of delicious spicy pickled cucumbers and peppers.
Around a year ago in August, I went through the pain stacking process of trying to find cucumbers that would be suitable for pickling. Good riddance to the enormous, overly strong flavored salad cucumbers that are the ubiquitous and often the only choice in many grocery stores. Last year, my first stop in trying to find a decent farmer’s market was the Second Street Market on Second Street in downtown Dayton, OH. Honestly, unlike some Dayton locals, I have been thoroughly unimpressed with the Second Street Market. Needless to say, I was unable to find any suitable cucumbers there. The next stop I made last year was to the farmer’s market in Yellow Spring, OH. This was also a disappointing venture that ended with me cucumberless. A couple weeks later, I made a visit to the Dorothy Lane Market and noticed that they had the cucumbers I desired! Only, they were old, soft, and unusable for pickling. I admitted defeat and gave up on the venture for the year. I must have missed the season for them.
Fast forward to the past week. Ben’s harvest post reminded me of my desire to make pickles. My first stop this year was the Second Street Market again, and I was disappointed again. I got in my car, pulled out my phone, and quickly looked to see if there was some other farmer’s market or something that I might me able to go to. I noticed a couple year old Dayton Daily News article that mentioned that there was a farmer’s market in Miamisburg that is open on Saturdays, so I took the drive to downtown Miamisburg. No farmers market. I pulled into a random parking lot and looked for more information. Maybe it moved or something. Apparently the farmer’s market’s hours were changed to be just on Wednesday afternoons. Just my luck. I decided to give up for at least the day and went to the Dorothy Lane Market to pick up a couple peppers to make dinner. Near the produce section, they had a stand with produce from local farmers. I saw some suitable cucumbers, but at the same time, remembered my previous experience with them. I a couple, and they felt kind of soft. Then, I moved past the ones on top, and I found some that were perfect and crisp. Finally, I could proceed with making pickles!
Now, I wanted to make spicy pickles and peppers, but I also wanted to make something uniquely my own. If I just wanted the pickles and peppers from Tony Packo’s, I’d order some online or I’d just pick some up the next time I dropped by Toledo. I used a variety of peppers to spices things up a bit, some black pepper, and garlic. I don’t believe that these were part of the original Tony Packo’s recipe.
Peppers and Garlic
The first thing I did was to wash the peppers and cucumbers.
I then cut the cucumbers and peppers into pieces.
Cut up cucumbers (the peppers are hiding under the cucumbers)
While making the pickles, I snaked on a few of the cucumbers. They were much better tasting to me than the typical salad cucumber. Salad cucumbers have always had a harsh, unpleasant taste to me. After the pickles and peppers were cut up, I started boiling the jars and lids to sterilize them.
While the jars were being sterilized, I peeled some garlic cloves. I used about a half bulb of garlic per quart jar. I have no idea if that was way too much or way too little, but that is what I ended up using. I love garlic, so I figure it can’t be too much. ^_^
After the garlic was all peeled, I made the brine for the pickles. I put the following in a pot and heated it up to a low simmer so that all of the salt could be dissolved. Adjust the amounts for the amount of pickles you are going to make. The ratios should be roughly the same. I am not really sure if these are going to be too sweet or salty, since I haven’t used it before, I used the brine ratios from Emeril’s recipe.
- 9 cups water
- 9 cups white vinegar
- 1.5 cups salt
- 3/4 cups sugar
Waiting for the Jars to Sterilize
After the jars were sterilize, I took them out of the water bath, put in some of the garlic, a few peppercorns, and a couple dried arbol chilies in each. I then topped them up to the threaded part of the jar with the cut up pickles and peppers. The jars were then filled to the threaded part with with the brine and the lids and rings were put on the jars.
After filling with the brine
The jars are then places back into the boiling water to pasteurize the contents. Pints jars need about 15 minutes, and quart jars need about 20 minutes.
Boiling the filled jars
After the jars were done with being pasteurized, I loosened the ring on them a little to left off some excess pressure, then I tightened them back up again. I did this really quickly to make sure that the jars would create a vacuum and seal up when they cooled. I have no idea if this was a good thing to do, but it seemed good to me, so I did it.
The jars after being pasteurized
With the amount of vegetables I started with, I made about 4.5 jars of pickles. The pickles also shrunk/rearranged themselves a bit while being pasteurized. If I had tried to pack them in a bit better, I probably could have made 4 jars with less empty space in them.