You Can Never Have Too Many Pickles
From the backyard or from your local farmers market, crisp cucumbers are a summertime favorite. I usually eat these green delights in a salad or as a snack, but after being told by many people how easy canning and pickling was, I had to give it a chance. This push for pickling could not have come at a better time since the Fresh Nation garden is being overrun with cucumbers!
After picking the cucumbers from the garden, make sure to remove the spines from the skin and wash them thoroughly to rinse away any dirt. We decided to use the ‘Ball - Kosher Dill Pickle Mix’ since it is easy to prepare and quite tasty. We are also preparing these pickles without sealing them in their containers, so they will be ready sooner but do not last as long. Ball calls this type of canning the “enjoy now” preparation method, but we just call it being too excited to wait to eat our pickles.
Assuming the pickles are cleaned, preparing the brining mixture is really easy. Many Ball products list the directions on the side, but the website is also helpful to read what other people are doing and to keep us confident we were on the right track.
As per the instructions, we planned on making 2 quarts of pickles. This required about…
- 14 small to medium pickles (or about 6-7 very large pickles in our case)
- 1 cup vinegar (at 5% acidity)
- 2 cups water
- one packet of ball spices
- 2 quart ball jars
- a large bowl
(The recipe recommends that you cut the pickles into spears, but since we are rebels we chose to keep the pickles whole.)
With the pickles prepped, we combined the water, vinegar, and Kosher Dill Pickle Mix in a medium saucepan and heated it to a boil.
Place the pickles into a large bowl and once the brining solution is at a boil, pour it over the pickles in the bowl.
Let the mixture sit with the pickles until it is cool. When everything is at room temperature again, pack the cucumbers into the 2 quart jars and evenly distribute the brine solution among the jars. As mentioned before, because we were rebels and chose to keep the pickles whole rather than cut them into spears, we needed to add a little extra pickling solution to the jars because of the extra space.
At this point, all that is left to do is wait as the pickles sit in the fridge soaking up flavor. Who would have thought making pickles was so easy!
Great Reads For Eating Healthier & Living More Sustainably
With so many books available now suggesting what you should eat to live longer, look younger, be smarter, sleep better, or get slimmer, it can be a daunting task selecting the one that gives you the information you’re looking for.
My favorite book on eating a healthy diet is one that is also an incredibly easy read, straightforward, balanced and full of common sense. It’s Michael Pollan’s ‘Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual’. It’s described as ‘a definitive compendium of food wisdom’ and that’s exactly what it is. It provides a short, user-friendly guide to making good food choices, written in a friendly, witty manner. It’s a great book to help you take the first step on the path to eating a healthier diet.
As a next step, if you’re interested in understanding not only how to improve your health, but also how to reduce your carbon footprint and cut down on food costs, I recommend Mark Bittman’s book ‘Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating’. The first half of this book gives you some wonderful insights and facts about the food industry and the foods we eat, while the other half is devoted to recipes and helping you to cook ‘like food matters’. It’s written in a clear and easy to digest (excuse the pun) manner.
A book that I found fascinating and unnerving is one written by Robyn O’Brien with Rachel Kranz, called ‘The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick – and What We Can Do About It’. The book discusses the rise in autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies in the last two decades and discusses the recent changes in our food supply that may be contributing to the onset of these disorders. It’s a compelling read and provides much food for thought.