Lekker: Spicy Claussen Knock-Off Pickles

A few weeks ago I attempted pickles for the first time and wound up with some nice (though a little bit too sweet for me) Bread and Butter Pickles. As I raved in that post, though, Claussen Pickles are my absolute favourite because since they are cold brined with no cooking, they are crisp and crunchy unlike the usual sad floppy pickle. (No one likes a floppy pickle, guys.)

I really wanted to figure out how to recreate those at home and looked online for some recipes, but ultimately decided to just wing it on my own. Some people online had trouble with mold, or with "fuzz" appearing at the top of the pickles. My Bonus Dad Harry warned me that he'd heard that garlic goes blue/green when put into vinegar raw, but I didn't have that problem either. It was just easy, and great!

Now, I will say--these are SPICY. These are not like the classic Claussen Dills. Tonight I'm going to change up the vinegar/water ratio (because even for me it was just a tiny bit too vinegar-y, though my girlfriends said they were really good) and tone it down on the red pepper to see if I can get a little bit closer to perfection. That's why I consider this recipe to be a "working recipe", because I will update it as I refine. If you like spicy, though, you will LOVE these--housemate TB absolutely raved, saying he can never find a pickle in the store that is as spicy and crispy as he likes.

I was happy with the way these turned out--they had the crisp crunch I was looking for and I don't see any reason why I would hot brine ever again.

Here we go!
 Pretty pickles in a pretty jar!

Spicy Claussen Knock-Off Pickles (Working Recipe)

What You Need
1 package small pickling cucumbers (these come in packs of six, usually, in a little Styrofoam carton covered in cling wrap)
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard seed
3-4 garlic cloves, minced roughly
1 handful fresh dill, trimmed of stems (I bought one of those tiny plastic containers of dill in the fresh herb section of the store)

What You Do
1. Wash your cucumbers well and dry. Cut off the stem ends and slice them into spears, then follow the directions for salting them as found in step 1 of the Bread & Butter Pickles recipe. Same concept--we're trying to draw out some of the water to make a crisper pickle.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water and spices. No heating required!

 Oh, I guess I threw my garlic in there too during this step. Whatever. It isn't rocket surgery peeps.

3. You'll need a large Ball jar or other type of jar with a tight fitting seal for these pickles. I keep forgetting to look what size my jars are because I'm disorganized and have the memory capacity of goldfish. If your 15 minutes of "salting" time for the cukes are up, you can pat them dry nicely with a paper towel and stuff them into the jar along with the minced garlic and the dill. You'll want them to have a LITTLE bit of room to move around so that you can shake up the jar every day.

4. Pour in the brine. For me, I discovered that I was about 2 tablespoons too short of brine because you really want them to be covered completely, so I added some brine from the original Claussen Pickles that I had in my fridge and voila! Put the lid on and tuck them in the fridge for a week. Every day I gave the jar a good shake and turned it upside down to make sure the garlic cloves and spices got nicely distributed.

That's it! My friend Tiny Bird exclaimed "I didn't know you could make your own pickles!" when she tasted them and I didn't know until recently, either, but this is so easy it's stupid. Once I can get this recipe down to my version of perfection I'll ever need to buy pickles again. Not that pickles are, like, insanely expensive or something--I am not making my life easier or cheaper by doing this, but...it's FUN!

This is what they looked like after a week in the fridge. Basically the same, but not so white in color.
Posted on September 17, 2013 .