I think it’s rather obvious at this point that I’m a big fan of pickles. It’s possible that I like making pickles even more than I like eating them. Possible, but it’s a close call. One of my favorite parts of making pickles is the waiting. You do all the work up front, but you can’t tell how they’ll turn out for weeks. Maybe someone with a bit more experience in pickle-making could taste a pickle that hasn’t been aged and tell immediately what it will be like in a week or a month, but not me. I’m not in a hurry to learn though; that anticipation is great. There’s always some chance that when you crack open the jar, it will turn out to be horrible…and that’s happened to me a few times. But it makes the times it does work that much better.
Late summer and early fall is probably my favorite time of year. Cool without being bone-numbingly cold. You still have the summer abundance of veggies, but it’s cool enough to actually use your kitchen. And it’s pickling time. I tend to make several small batches of different pickles instead of a few large batches. Invariably I have to cut a recipe way down to make the amount I want. I’m pretty much the only one in my house who really likes pickles, so there’s no sense in making 8 quart jars in a batch. I also tend to make pickles with whatever I have on hand instead of buying veggies specifically to pickle, so I never have a ton at once.
This is my second go at making sauerkraut. I think the first time might have given me a bit of false confidence. My first batch was a very straightforward recipe: cabbage, salt and caraway. It turned out beautifully, with a mild (but distinct) fermented flavor and just enough caraway. It was idiot simple (especially since I used a mandoline to shred the cabbage instead of doing it by hand.) Since it turned out so well the first time, of course I had to change several things the second time around.