Photo by Getty Images/Qwart
No need to be limited in this recipe: If you prefer sugar to maple, go for it! Try brown sugar. Whisky or bourbon would also add unique depth to the brine.
- Maple Brine recipe (below)
- 1 tablespoon Bread & Butter Spice Mix (below)
- 1-1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers, blossom ends removed, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- Combine the brine and spice mix in a medium-sized stainless steel pot, and bring it to a simmer.
- Pack the cucumber slices into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers, using a canning funnel and staying mindful of the head-space.
- Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims, and apply lids and rings. Process in a water bath canner or steam canner for 15 minutes. Cool and check jars for lid seal.
Yields 2 pints.
Maple Brine Recipe
Brines have an optimal balance of acids to keep preserved pickles safe while also preventing the sourness from overpowering the fresh produce and seasonings. Use a vinegar of at least 5 percent acidity. If you like a stronger tang, replace up to 1/2 cup of the water with more vinegar. If you prefer less of a bite to your pickle, you can safely add a sweetener; start with 1 to 2 tablespoons to take the edge off. To prepare this brine, simply bring the ingredients to a simmer before use. It makes enough brine for one quart jar or two pint jars.
Replace up to 1/2 cup of the water with apple cider, beer, or hard cider, if preferred. If you’d like to add some rum, whiskey, or bourbon, substitute no more than 1/4 cup of the water with alcohol.
- 1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Basic pickle spice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander, fresh or dried ginger, juniper, marjoram, mustard seeds, nutmeg, relish spice, sage, star anise, sweet and smoked paprika, tarragon, and/or thyme, to taste
Bread & Butter Spice Mix
Freshly made spice blends allow you to experience the way each individual spice mingles with the rest to create a particular flavor. Because pickling means you’re trapping produce in jars long-term to absorb brine, you should use the best spices and herbs available. This recipe yields about 1 cup. Simply combine all the spices in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds (or more yellow)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon celery seeds
- 1 tablespoon crushed bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise, optional
For more unique pickling recipes, see:
- Perfectly Piquant Pickles
- All-American Cucumber Relish
- Pearl Onion Pickles
- Bread & Butter Tomatoes
- Classic Vinegar-Brined Cucumber Pickles