The first step to pickling cukes is stoke. A full measure is best.
Step two is ordering 2.27 kg of cukes from Pitchfork Organic Farm. Ensure they will fit into a jar.
Step three: have a recipe e-mailed to you via the internet.
Fourth step is to convert the recipe to the language of science. Aka, metric units. Mostly to be obstinate. But it turns out this is useful later when doing science becomes essential.
2.27 kg pickling cucumbers
16 garlic cloves
a large bunch of dill
1000 ml water
667 ml pickling vinegar
83 ml coarse salt
Step five, find “pickling vinegar” at the shop. Note that the difference is that regular white vinegar is 5% acetic acid whereas pickling vinegar is 7%. Examine all products available. Carry the selection to the checkout, pay, and bicycle it home.
Step sucks is to find out you have accidentally purchased the 5% shit. Get frustrated. Pout. Have a beer. Chill out. Go to a different store. With beer.
Step possibly-moving-forward is to discover only weak (4%) rice vinegar and also a curious bottle of pale yellow liquid labeled entirely in Czech and Slovak. Discover those are different languages and note you understand neither. The bottle has the number 8% on the front and the shop keeper offers assurance that it is vinegar special-ordered for a european customer keen on pickling. Fancy europickles anyone?
Step definitely-getting-better: pour another beer.
Step slow is to use google translate for half an hour to figure out what the heck this stuff is. Key words unlocked include: fermentation, traditional, vinegar, drinking water, and food dye E150c. The food dye seems harmless, if not ideal, so the project moves forward.
Step science-is-awesome: titrate 8% acetic acid (vinegar) down to 7%.
Step six is to mix the liquids and get it hot! Also boil water to sterilize jars and lids.
The seventh step is to peel many garlics from the garden. This is fun because garlic is rad. Also assemble the dill.
Step next is to add some garlic and dill to each jar. Also stuff in as many cukes as possible because, apparently, they shrink once they cool. Been there.
Step now it is time to boil the jars of stuff for ten minutes. Start that happening. Once the water gets scalding hot realise you have forgotten to add salt to the “brine”. Remove hot jars from the water, open them, divvy up the salt, close the jars, and return them to the hot water. Once it has boiled for ten minutes remove them and compare to unboiled jars.
Step patience is to wait four weeks before eating.
Step reflection is to realise that you could have reversed that fancy titration move you were so happy about to modify the recipe for the original vinegar you mistakenly bought.
1000 ml water
667 ml vinegar (7%)
1083 ml water
583 ml vinegar (8%)
733 ml water
933 ml vinegar (5%)
All three result in a vinegar potency of 2.8%.