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Crafty: Pickling 101


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Photos by Frankie Schneckloth

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Every year, I dream up elaborate plans for my summer vegetable garden. And each year, at about this time, I start to lose steam. The constant weeding and watering are too much for me and I can never seem to battle the bugs and pests in an effective way. I tried to keep it in check this year and scale back a bit on planting. I selected things that we truly like and actually eat, and that also are relatively easy to care for. I planted, among numerous other vegetables, three tiny cucumber plants.

Now that Summer is in full swing, my modestly sized garden is full and lush and my cucumbers are giving me a serious run for my money. Every day, new blossoms bud into fruit and I can hardly keep up—I’ve got a store of cucumbers staring me down every time I open my refrigerator.

Canning and pickling have always intrigued me. And, while I have appreciated and admired others’ homemade pickles, I had never attempted to make them myself. When I came across a recipe for quick pickles that didn’t require any fancy gadgets, I was eager to see what could happen with a few ingredients and my excess of cucumbers. In 20 minutes, I was on my way to some delicious pickles!

This quick afternoon project will yield great results and can really lend a hand where CSA (community-supported agriculture) boxes and productive gardens are concerned. Once you’ve got the hang of it, adapt to other fresh produce—the possibilities are truly limitless! Pickled peppers, pickled green beans, even pickled blueberries?

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Quick Pickles 

Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
by Thomas Keller

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Spices (I used a pickling blend, black peppercorns, celery seeds, an assortment of fresh and dried peppers, garlic cloves and fresh dill.)
  • Cucumbers

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Instructions

  1. Wash and dry two standard size mason jars and their lids.
  2. Scrub cucumbers and trim off stems and the blossom end. Cut into spears or slices and pack into jars.
  3. Add spices. Spicy pickles are a favorite at our house, so we were a bit heavy-handed with our hot peppers and peppercorns.
  4. Heat vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan until dissolved, then pour over the cucumbers.
  5. Once the liquid has reached room temperature, put on a tight-fitting lid. Pickles will be ready to eat within a day, the flavor will develop the longer they sit. Quick pickles should be eaten within a week or so.

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Frankie Schneckloth needs a Bloody Mary for her pickles, please.


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