July 17, 2019
Good afternoon, foodie friends.
Like the rest of you, I’m doing my best to figure out ways to sustain my family on foods cooked with as little effort and heat as possible. Lucky for me, my now 4-year-old is spending a week at camp Grandma and Grandpa’s house, so dinners are suddenly a casual affair — I ate half a bag of Pirate’s Booty last night and called it supper. Don’t judge me.
We have been getting some nutrition during this childless stint thanks to my small, but mighty, garden that seems to have doubled in size overnight. In an effort to keep up with the harvest, I did a quick pickle of some cucumber from the garden last night.
If you’re like me, you may have grown up with an unhealthy fear of the whole pickling process. My mother spent weeks every summer making her famous dill pickles — I can still smell that pungent, steamy mixture of dill and white vinegar that wafted throughout the house come August. There were glass jars boiling in hot water and some magic witchery my mother performed in order to keep us all from dying of botulism. Tapping on counters, timers going off and the occasional jar breaking — downright frightening and far too time-consuming, I always thought.
But then, I took a cooking class with Marisa McClellan, pickling expert and author of "Food in Jars,” for a story I wrote about the kitchen store at HGS Home Chef in Hillsdale, N.Y. (A totally awesome experience that I recommend to anyone, by the way.) After two hours, McClellan had demystified the canning experience and made me a quick-pickle convert.
Here’s how you do it: Simply combine 1 cup of water, ⅓ cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then add your sliced cucumbers and shallots (I also threw in a few green beans that were ready to be picked ahead of the rest of the pack). Make sure the vegetables are submerged in the liquid and put in the refrigerator. The longer the vegetables sit, the better it tastes. This should last about a week before the vegetables lose their crispness. These are great to eat right out of the jar or on sandwiches. I’m going to use up the rest of mine making this delicious-sounding pickle pasta salad.
Managing editor of Features