Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Pickles

I recently read an article about an unusual kind of pickle made with Koolaid.  Anyone who knows me knows that is just the kind of idea that gets my attention.  It is different enough that it sounds interesting and the recipe was easy enough that I wouldn't feel I had wasted too much time and energy if it didn't turn out well. Apparently Koolaid pickles, called Koolickles, are an invention that sprang from the Mississippi Delta region of the southern United States.  Koolickles begin with commercial whole dill pickles and turn into more of a sweet pickle with the addition of the Koolaid and sugar. Since I already have a pickle recipe that starts out similarly, I was familiar with the process.  In fact, my pickle recipe, without Koolaid, is my favorite pickle recipe.  I keep a large jar of them in my refrigerator all the time and we use them on sandwiches and condiment trays.

So....I decided to give Koolaid pickles a try.  The recipe I used came from I Believe I Can Fry and suggested using a red flavored Koolaid.  Since I don't keep Koolaid in the house, I had to make a trip to the store for, not only the Koolaid, but for an extra large jar of whole dill pickles.  I also had to get some more sugar.  Those were the only ingredients required in the recipe, so I headed home to get started.

The first step in the process was to drain, but not discard the pickle juice.  Then the recipe suggested cutting the pickles in half, but since my family rarely sits down to nosh on a giant pickle half, I opted to cut the dills into slices.  Ok, so that was just the first step of my recipe deviation.  Next, I was supposed to add a pound of sugar and 2 packages of unsweetened Koolaid (I chose cherry) to the reserved pickle juice, which I did.  But at this point, the pickles seemed a little plain to me, so here's where my recipe went slightly off course.  My favorite pickle recipe has added spices and heat to make it more of a sweet and hot pickle, which I love.  I was afraid to experiment too much with spices because of the Koolaid, but I figured I could spice things up by adding a little heat, so I threw in some red pepper flakes.  Because I also like the pickled onions that I add to my original recipe, I decided to throw some into the Kookaid version as well. Then the reserved pickle juice/Koolaid/sugar mixture gets poured back over the pickles and the jar is placed in the refrigerator to marinate for a week or so before eating.

So what was the final verdict on the tale of the two pickles.  I honestly like my original recipe better. My pickles are crunchier and I love the spice mix over the Koolaid.  The red color of the Koolaid pickles is a novelty and could add a splash of brightness to your appetizer platter or condiment tray,but I don't really think the fruitiness of the Koolaid adds too much in terms of flavor, especially not compared to the spices I add to my other pickles.  Additionally, my original pickles are sweeter.  The soaking process of my recipe not only adds crunch, it also removes the dilliness.  The dill flavor is still pretty prominent in the Koolickles, which is a bit odd.  I do, however, think adding the red pepper flakes to the Kookaid pickles was a good call.  They really needed that extra kick, in my opinion.  But, you decide.  Try them both and tell us what you think.

1 gallon whole dill pickles
1 lb. sugar
2 packages unsweetened Koolaid

Drain and reserve the liquid from the jar of pickles.  Cut or slice the pickles according to your preference and place back into the jar.  You may slice an onion and add to the jar along with the pickles at this point, if you like. Add the sugar and Koolaid (and 1 or 2 T of red pepper flakes, if you would like spicier pickles)  to the reserved pickle juice, stir to dissolve and pour back over the sliced pickles.  Place in refigerator and chill for one week before eating.

My Original Hot and Spicy Pickles

1 gallon whole dill pickles
4 c. sugar, divided
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. water
1 T. pickling spice
1 T. red pepper flakes
20 cloves garlic, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
5 jalapenos, sliced

Drain pickles and discard juice.  Slice pickles and place in a medium glass bowl with 2 c. sugar, onions, garlic and jalapeno slices.  Stir, cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight. In a medium sauce pan, combine the remaining sugar, vinegar, water, pickling spice, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil.  Pour over the pickles and allow to stand for 6-8 hours or over night. Place back into pickle jar and store in refrigerator.

Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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