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!
Is This The Beginning Of The End Of Obesity in America?
Tony Lee - CEO & Founder of Fresh Nation
For some time now there has been a rumble of discontent about the state of the nation’s health, with particular emphasis on our collective eating habits and their impact on increasing rates of obesity and related disorders such as diabetes.
But in the wake of the recent premiere of HBO’s seminal documentary on the subject “The Weight of the Nation”, it seems like the tide may finally be turning in favor of healthier foods and better eating habits. First, Mayor Bloomberg in New York City proposed a ban on the sale of sugary drinks greater than sixteen ounces per serving in restaurants and other eating establishments. Then Disney announced that as part of a new program to combat childhood obesity, it was restricting ads for junk food on its cable and radio networks, instead mandating advertisers to meet new nutritional standards by 2015 which promote fruits and vegetables and limit the intake of fats, salt and sugars in children’s diets. And all this against the backdrop of our First Lady, Michelle Obama, publishing her “American Grown” book promoting kitchen gardens and healthy eating.
There is no easy fix to a food system that has developed more to line the pockets of special interests than to create a healthy society. Most people now recognize that it is going to take a mixture of regulation, litigation, political will and public pressure to dismantle whole sections of our food production, delivery and marketing infrastructure, and rebuild them in the public’s interest. Mayor Bloomberg, Michelle Obama and Disney are helping to take some first early steps in the process.
Obesity is going to be with us for a long time to come, but we see these early steps as the beginning of the end to obesity in America.
How Can I Eat More Sustainably?
Alex Lee - Community Manager
While working as an environmental consultant for Miya’s Sushi, a sustainable sushi restaurant in Connecticut, I was frequently asked, “How can I eat more sustainably?” I would answer by telling individuals to stop eating industrialized meat products, seek out sustainable fish and poultry when possible, and buy local. These solutions minimize resource consumption and one’s carbon footprint, but trying to persuade large groups of people to change their consumer habits is not always effective. A more rewarding and fruitful way to encourage sustainability however can begin in the backyard by starting a garden. Because your produce is grown a few feet from the house, fossil fuels are not burned transporting food, and your vegetables have higher levels of vitamins and minerals.
Having a green thumb is easy to acquire, and throughout this blog I will be putting up tutorials on how to choose the right plants for your area, maintaining your garden, setting up compost bins, how to harvest and cook your produce, building and maintaining a hydroponic garden, and much more. I am really excited for this upcoming growing season and look forward to helping others green their lifestyles.