So, things have been crazy on my end – hence the lack of posts. My apologies. To be honest, it’s been a rough few months for various reasons. One of the reasons is my finicky stomach; that makes cooking and baking not a lot of fun, not to mention restrictive. Restrictive how? Well, I’ve been on a low FODMAPS diet since the beginning of June. Unfortunately I have not had a ton of improvement, but it’s interesting to learn about it. So long story short, it’s changed my perspective on food a bit lately.
What else have I been busy with? Well, this year Monkey Man and I started a vegetable garden in our back yard. It’s been a successful experiment so far 🙂 We planted garlic, shallots, scallions, herbs, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, swiss chard, beets, melon, squash, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and potatoes. Not all of the seeds sprouted, so we’re learning; but we recently harvested 10 pounds of fingerling potatoes and the cucumbers are just downright prolific.
You can only eat so much cucumber on a salad, or eat so much cucumber salad. So what do you do with the rest (aside of give it away)? Make pickles 🙂
This post actually contains three pickle recipes – Sweet Gherkins, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Dill-ish Spears. These are refrigerator pickles, so they are 1) super easy to make, 2) ready to eat in a few days, and 3) not meant for long term storage. Should you want to make pickles for long term storage, you can use the same brine, but the process is a bit different.
Sweet Gherkins were my favorite pickle as a kid and I can’t tell you how pleased I was for these to turn out well!
For the Sweet Gherkins, you will need:
200 g small cucumbers (about 1/2″ in diameter)
2/3 c. water
1/3 c. white distilled vinegar
1/3 c. champagne vinegar
2 t. sea salt, uniodized
1/2 c. cane sugar
1/2 t. fennel seed
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. celery seed
7-8 whole cloves
1/4 t. mustard seed
1/8 t. ground tumeric
I reuse jars – pasta sauce jars, jelly jars, any jar really. I clean them and sanitize them in the dishwasher before pickling. I was a bit lazy about the labels this time – so excuse them please. But if you want, just soak the jars in hot, soapy water for about an hour and the labels will come right off.
Check your cucumbers and trim any stems, remove any flowers, etc.
Pack your cucumbers into the jar to make sure they’ll fit. This was a small sauce jar.
Next, add all of the spices, sugar, salt, vinegars and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
The salt and sugar should be completely dissolved. I usually transfer the brine into a large measuring cup (4+ cup capacity) to make pouring the brine into the jar a bit easier.
Fill the packed jar with the brine, making sure to fill the jar to the very top – don’t be afraid to let some spill over.
Place the lid on the jar and close tightly and place in the refrigerator for about 2 days prior to eating. They’ll pick up more flavor the longer they sit on the jar 😉 Don’t forget to gently turn the jar to move the spices around – they tend to sit at the bottom.
For the Bread and Butter Pickles, you will need:
250 g cucumbers, 1-1.5″ diameter, sliced into discs
Handful of scallions or chives (green parts only), chopped
1 T. uniodized salt (sea salt)
4 heaping T. brown sugar (not packed)
2/3 c. water
2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/8 t. ground tumeric
1 whole clove
1 t. mustard seed
1/4 t. celery seed
First, slice the cucumbers into approximately 1/8″ discs. Discard the ends. Finely chop the chives.
Pack the jar (I used a salsa jar) with the sliced cucumbers and chives to make sure it will fit. Be sure to layer in chopped chives throughout.
Add the brown sugar, water, apple cider vinegar, salt, and spices to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Be sure that the salt and sugar have dissolved completely. Remove from the heat and transfer to a pourable measuring cup. As with the Sweet Gherkins, fill the jar completely – in fact, overfill the jar. Place the lid on the jar, invert a few times, and place in the refrigerator.
Now, the Dill-ish Spears are not traditional Dill Spears for one big reason – I did not use garlic, hence low FODMAPs friendly 😉 But I think you’ll find they are still reminiscent of traditional Dill Spears. If garlic is not a problem for you, by all means add garlic (2-3 cloves).
For the Dill-ish Spears, you will need:
2 large cucumbers
1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. white distilled vinegar
3/4 c. apple cider vinegar
Heaping handful of fresh dill
2 T. coriander seed
1/2 t. mustard seed
1 T. chives, chopped
2 T. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
First, cut off the ends of the cucumbers and cut out the seeds (at least most of them).
Double check the spears and make sure they fit in your jar. Trim and cut as required to make them fit 🙂
As with the other pickle pickle brine, combine the water, vinegar, and spices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Place the fresh dill and chives in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar with the spears and cover the spears with the brine. Place the lid on the jar and place in refrigerator.
Two days later – pickles!
I hope you guys enjoy these. Monkey Man has 🙂
The beauty of pickling is the variety of spice combinations. You can use similar pickling brines for okra, chow chow, green beans, even fruit. Note, the brines in this post go from sweetest to not sweet – i.e. Sweet Gherkins, then Bread and Butter Pickles, then Dill-ish Spears. Both the Sweet Gherkins and the Bread and Butter Pickles call for tumeric (gives the pickles a yellow color) and cloves. These spices also give the impression of sweet. Careful with the cloves – a little goes a long way, so don’t be tempted to add more 😉
Now, I was tempted to use the apple cider vinegar for the Sweet Gherkins, but was afraid that the flavor would over power them – that’s why I opted to use champagne vinegar. It’s got more depth than white distilled vinegar.
Have fun with it! And enjoy 🙂