August, month of wonderful garden bounty! And terrible gardening puns!
This year, I tried my hand at growing cucumbers, and it was a resounding success! I have more cucumbers than I know what to do with – much like my kale dilemma in years past.
What’s a girl to do?
Last year, I took a trip to New York and fell in love with really good pickles. Specifically from the Pickle Guys. Even more specifically their pickled pineapple, which sounds gross but is the best thing I have ever put into my mouth. Even though it was December, when I got home I made a point of learning to pickle so that I’d maintain the habit. Pickling is SO EASY. I was intimidated at first, as it seemed like a lot of boiling and sterilizing and making sure things happened at the same time. While this is sort of true, it’s easier to manage than it sounds.
Also, if you’re still nervous, you can start out with a batch of refrigerator pickles. They aren’t shelf stable, but my pickles don’t last long enough for that to be an issue.
Here’s my favourite dill pickle recipe. It’s a fridge pickle recipe, and is the best way to start your pickling journey:
- 4 c water
- 3 tbsp kosher or coarse salt (half that if you use table salt)
- 1/2 c white vinegar (you can use cider vinegar too)
- 1 1/2 lb (6 c, 10-12ish cucumbers) small pickling cucumbers or 2 English cucumbers (the long ones)
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly diced
- 4 large sprigs of dill
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- chili flakes, if you’re nasty
Combine water, salt, and vinegar in a pot (ideally with a pouring thinger), bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and cool completely.
While this is happening, you can be preparing the cucumbers for the jars – wash them, trim the growth off the ends, resize or spear them if that’s how you roll.
Place cucumbers in a large glass or nonreactive metal bowl with the garlic, dill and peppercorns. Pour the now cool brine over the veggies and spices. Cover with a plate – one large enough to cover most of the pickles, but small enough that it will fit in the bowl and keep the cucumbers submerged in the brine.
Leave them for 2-3 days – test periodically for your perfect degree of sourness. Transfer your new pickles them to mason jars, along with their brine (and the dill and garlic and peppercorns and chili flakes). They should keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Pickles aren’t just an awesome addition to sandwiches, burgers, and tuna salad – they’re also a pretty decent post-workout snack (along with some lean protein and carbs).
Runners have been using pickles and pickle juice for years to stave off cramping. While the benefits are anecdotal (as opposed to scientifically tested), it makes sense that pickles would be a sound electrolyte replacement due to their high sodium content. Sodium helps your body to retain fluid – important during long training sessions, or endurance events. That’s why many of us feel like eating a bag of chips after we train hard.
Instead of reaching for the Pringles – reach for a pickle!
Some day, when you’re ready, I’ll share the pickled pineapple recipe. It will BLOW YOUR MIND.
Do you have a favourite pickling recipe? Share it!