The best part about the month of August around here is the bounty of vegetables that are literally crawling out of my garden. Cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, summer squash and all sorts of greens have made their debut.
The worst part? It’s going to end soon.
Which is why I start finding ways I can preserve what I have. After giving away tons of vegetables to neighbors and friends, I still couldn’t possibly eat the dozens of zucchini or hundreds of tomatoes by myself. Thank goodness for pickling, brining, fermenting and freezing.
Zucchini gets grated for zucchini bread, tomatoes get made into sauce, and basil gets made into pesto. All into the freezer they will go.
I spent the morning making pickles with my bumper crop of cucumbers (along with sauerkraut and kombucha – that is for another post). I could have canned them, but because of limited time, and my own impatience, I decided to make refrigerator pickles. The only downside is they don’t last as long as canning, but they are just as good.
If you’re at all into eating fermented foods (and you should be), pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha are very in, and, quite frankly, so good for you that they should be a part of your daily diet. These fermented foods feed the bacteria already living in your intestines, giving them the nourishment they need.
Have you ever made your own pickles? I am going to show you how easy they are to make. After this cooking lesson, you make your own and might never go back to those mass produced store bought ones from the supermarket.
Take advantage of all the beautiful, delicious and nutritious produce out there right now and think about what you can preserve, pickle or ferment.
Late Summer Pickles
Makes about 2 quarts
About 6 large pickles (enough to cut into spears, or coins, and fit comfortably in your jars.)
2 tablespoons pickling spice (found in any grocery store)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 quart sized mason jars (you can use 4-pint sized jars too)
- Add 1 tablespoon each of the pickling spice to the mason jars. Cut the ends of the cucumbers where the stem would have been* and then cut the cucumbers into spears or coins. Pack as many as you can into the jars. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add the vinegar, water, and salt and bring to a boil, making sure the salt dissolves. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- Pour the vinegar mixture over the spears until they are covered, leaving about 1/2-inch of space at the top. You may have extra brine. If there are air bubbles at the top give the jars a tap to remove them.
- Allow the jars to cool down, then cover and place in the refrigerator. Give the pickles at least 48 hours (I would recommend more, the longer the better) to ferment. Refrigerator pickles will last for several weeks.
*If you buy cucumbers from the farmer’s market cut off the ends where the stem was. The little end contains enzymes that can make your pickles limp (this could be a rumor but I’m not taking chances).