Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quick Pickles

Dear Folks,

Preserving food -- always sounds like a lot of work to package up a whole bunch of food for long-term storage.  The challenge for small households or types of food that are not frequently eaten is most food preservation recipes are written for down-on-the-farm harvest time canning.

So I thought I would share a quick pickle recipe for a small batch of cucumbers and whatever herbs appeal to you.  The really good thing about this is, it will last for 2-3 weeks (refrigerated), you can make it whenever you have the ingredients on hand, and they stay really crisp.  If you watch the food shows on TV you may have seen the super star chefs making pickles.  They will do a batch for that evening's dinner offerings.  Same principle.

QUICK PICKLE (see below for sweet or bread & butter option)
(will make one pint of pickles)

1 cup of water
1 cup of white vinegar (Or you can get creative and use red or herb vinegar)
1 teaspoon of salt
herbs and spices of your choice
1 large or 2 small cucumbers***

***Cut into spears 4 inches long, or you can use as many small whole cucumbers as will fit tightly standing up in the jar.

Make sure you mason jar is perfectly clean.

Place the herbs in the bottom of the jar -- I used several sprigs of dill I sun-dried this past spring, and a small hand full of dried garlic chives I also sun-dried this summer.

Arrange the cucumbers in the jar, fitting tight in the jar (this keeps them from floating so they all stay in the liquid).

Bring the water, vinegar, and salt to a full rolling boil.  Pour over the cucumbers, make sure the liquid fully coves the cukes.

Cap the jar tightly and let sit on the counter until completely cooled down.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Ready to use!!

Options:  Try other veggies, but remember they need to be packed vertically for the best taste and preservation.  Green beans, zucchini, peppers, any vegetable you love pickled.

add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the boiling liquid
Herbs/Spices: instead of dill and garlic, place a slice of onion at the bottom of the jar first with 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of caraway or celery seeds and a pinch of tumeric - pack the cucumbers in as above, add boiling liquid cap, cool and refrigerate.


What to do with pickle juice?   Several options:

Drink it on a hot day (like an electrolyte sports drink)
Add it to the compost pile**
Pour on the soil around trees, tomatoes or blueberry (or other acid soil loving plants)**
Use in recipes calling for vinegar - like BBQ marinades

** Don't over-do the use in compost or soil due to the high salt content.  The occasional (a couple of times a year) addition won't add that much salt.

Hope this gives you lots of ideas
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady