Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pickles, pickles, pickles...

I have a friend whose love of pickles rivals the joy of a child getting a new puppy. Will the pickle be crispy? spicy? sour? To the true pickle lover these are serious questions. There are some basic differences that can make a pickle something amazing, besides the perfect blend of herbs and spices.

Refrigerator pickles
Refrigerator pickles are easier and often tastier than other pickling methods. A few things to consider before you get going, starting with the star of the show: cucumbers. If homegrown cucumbers are not an option, buy organic ones at the farmer's market. Supermarket cucumbers often have edible waxy coatings to help them retain moisture, and this wax prevents the cucumbers from absorbing the pickling liquid. Select cukes tat are free of mold, insect damage, blemishes and soft spots. If you are harvesting them yourself, first thing in the morning is the best time. Plan to make the pickles within a couple of days of harvest or purchase.
Another nice things about refrigerator pickles is that they don't require a special technique or container. Within a few hours, you'll have beautiful jars of crunchy, delicious pickles to serve or give as gifts.

The following recipe is from the Rodale Production Kitchen:

Audrey's Pickles
1 pound medium cucumbers
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
1 teaspoon fresh dill weed
1 whole dried bay leaf
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 1/2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
6 1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1. Cut cucumbers into spears or slices and place in a 2 quart container jar with a lid. Add the garlic, peppercorns, mustard seed, dill weed, and bay leaf.

2. Stir together the brown sugar, vinegars, and water. Pour the mixture over the cukes and shake the jar well to combine. Cover and chill. For the fullest flavor, wait at least 24 hours before serving. These pickles will keep up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

Article by Brenda McClain, Organic Gardening Aug/Sept 2010

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