Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Exploding Pyrex

I was holding my 4 cup pyrex, to help me transport my pickles. It bumped into one of the many boiling hot surfaces and shattered. Straight up the handle, all across the kitchen, many pieces, small and large. Nothing injured, save my pride. All in all, it was not my finest culinary moment.

The pickles themselves are Bread and Butter and delicious. I don't trust that they're sealed, so they will need to be consumed over the next month or so. Ce la vie.

So, here's what I did:

Cumcumbers and white onions sliced thinly, tossed through with 1 cup of pickling salt (ie salt sans iodine). They were placed in the top portion of a pasta pot, and weighted down, then placed overnight in the fridge to drain. At the end of 12 hrs, I rinsed them off thoroughly, then set them to drain again while the other ingredients were prepped.

Nomi helped make the brine. Based off of The Joy of Cooking's Bread and Butter pickle recipe, it consisted of:

5 cups cider vinegar
4 cups white sugar
2 T mustard seed
1 1/2 T celery seed
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp all spice
2 whole star anise

The brine was set to near boiling temp, then the cucumber mixture was added gradually. The pickles were brought up to "scalding, but not boiling temperature", then placed in hot 1 quart Ball Jars. They were placed in a pot of water, near boiling temp, that had been measured to cover the jars. They were processed for 1/2 an hour, and then removed.

And then the pyrex exploded. It will be a long while before I attempt canning again. Someday, jam or jelly or apple butter will ensue. Until that time, I shall pout, shake my head, and know I have met my match.

Are there cooking processes/techniques that you won't try, or that you read in a recipe and dismiss it on their account? I'm up to canning, deep frying, hot sugar and double boilers with constant whisking. They are my Moby Dick, and they shall be conquered.


  1. Exploding pyrex is my kitchen nightmare! Glad no one was hurt. I canned bread and butter pickles and strawberry jam last summer. To my surprise, everything sealed and I still have a little of each left in the pantry. This summer I plan to do some lacto-fermentation. Sauerkraut first. We'll see how that goes.

  2. My grandfather talks about how his grandparents house had a clay barrel in the basement that was perpetually making Sauerkraut. I'm thinking I'll try canning again with my mother in law's assistance, but will switch to attempting sourdoughs for the time being.

  3. Canning scares the bejezus out of me. It's silly, I know. As a good friend points out, people have done it for generations without giving their family some awful disease, but for some reason it's just not one of those things I feel good about teaching myself! Maybe someday I'll find an expert guide.

  4. I so want a fermenting crock, but don't want to spend the money just yet. Some people say it can be done in a gallon size glass jar. Others say the taste of that isn't authentic enough, but it can be made in a food grade plastic container. Still others insist if you don't make it in a fermenting crock, there's no point. I'm in the fact gathering stage, but need to make a decision soon because I have 5 heads of cabbage in my fridge.

    Sourdoughs are on my list, too. I've never tried.

  5. I had 12 cucumbers in my fridge, with another week of CSA cucumbers soon to arrive, so it was time to do something with them. Hence, my haphazard pickling attempt. I figured folks had been doing it for generations, so I could probably figure it out. I was a bit of an idiot. I should have at least waited until I had a second adult in the house to help keep the girls floating. I will try it again, but I am scared off for at least the week.

    Freeze a cabbage or two to make stuffed cabbage. Hold off until you have a good idea where to begin. Or, figure if you make a mistake, you can try again next time. The question is if a mistake is worth making your house smell like sauerkraut...