We have spared no effort in our relentless search for the world's best pickles. Meaning, we pulled every book with a pickling recipe from our cookbook library and dove in.
This particular preparation for mustard pickles involves no fermentation or anything even resembling a fermentation, unless you count the soaking overnight in hot water. It comes from a book titled, "Pickled: Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions," by Lucy Norris. And here you will find more pickling recipes than you could possibly ever use. Some are quite tantalizing. One calls for solarizing cucumbers in a brine with a slice of rye bread. Another is heavy with cajun spices. And there's an intriguing stuffed cucumber kimchi.
I am dubious about some of the quantities called for in the original mustard pickle recipe. It calls for "27 to 29 small Kirby cumbers, about 7 pounds" to fill four pints. Four pints? I'd like to see someone try to stuff seven pounds of cucumber into seven pint jars. My experience calls for something closer to one pound for each pint jar. The original formula also calls for 4 cups of distilled white vinegar for the brine. I halved the recipe and still had plenty of brine left over.
So I am giving my adjusted version:
2 pounds cucumbers, each about 4 inches long (or cut to fit)
4 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/8 cup pickling salt, or additive-free sea salt
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/8 teaspoon Splenda
1/8 cup sugar
Wash cucumbers, slice into halves, then place in a non-reactive bowl. Bring water to a boil, pour over cucumbers and let sit overnight.
Sterilize two pint canning jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, salt, mustard, Splenda and sugar. Pack cucumbers into hot jars, then cover with brine, leaving at least 1/4 inch headroom. Screw on lids and process in boiling water for 12 minutes according to manufacturer's instructions.
Store for at least one week before eating. Refrigerate after opening jars. Otherwise, the sealed jars should keep for many months.