Sometimes all you need is an uninterrupted hour.
I am a huge claussen pickle fan. Huge. All my life.
So I guess this moment was somewhat inevitable. It generally bothers me when there is a commercial or restaurant food based on “real food” that I can’t replicate to a satisfying degree (i.e. Arrogantly expect to make better than the original. Moving on…) In other words I don’t buy food because it is better than what I can cook but because it is quicker.
So Claussen pickles have certainly been bothering me for some time. I have made several real efforts to replicate their pickles since 2003 or 2004. I have scoured the web for copycat recipes (don’t bother. They’re all wrong.) I have certainly made some decent enough pickles and learned a good bit along the way, but so what?
I want to make my own Claussen pickles!!
So back to my spare hour. A couple of nights ago I went a late night grocery run and among other things picked up a pint of pickle spears.
And I binged.
And the next night I killed off the jar.
Sitting there the second night I was again marveling at the wonder of the flavor of claussen pickles looking at the jar, and it suddenly occurred to me that the answer was sitting in my hand. All the spices that flavor the pickles are just floating around the jar. It was about 8 and the kids were all asleep and there were no pressing tasks at hand (except dishes…) so I strained all of the seasonings out and separated them out by type. The results were fascinating.
First of all, no way I would have guessed that there were 9 different spices floating around in there. I would have guessed 4-6, tops. And then what was in there beyond garlic and dill seed is totally unexpected, to me:
Cinnamon!! Bay leaf!! Fennel seed!!
I confirmed the identity of each spice by pulling some out of my spice drawer and matching them up. The cinnamon was a total mystery until I took a nibble and then its flavor was unmistakable.
so the list that I have is:
1 tsp chopped garlic
You will correctly notice that the light brown spice on the left is unmatched. It remains unidentified, and I am not sure how to go about it at this point. The taste test was interesting though. It was tasteless and had the texture of an almond shell, really hard, really tasteless, strange. I blew it up so you can look more closely and figure it out for me. It’s right below the dark brown cinnamon
That just leaves the matter of how much salt, vinegar and calcium chloride to put into the brine and what temperatures to cure this. But my uninterrupted hour is up and we will tackle that in the next post!