Here in the Reskills section of Vegan Reader, we are sharing with you the kinds of do-it-yourself tips that enable us to be as self-sufficient as we can instead of depending on others for the processing of our food. Our family is crazy about dill pickles, but have you ever read the labels of even organic pickle jars?
The Unappetizing Truth About Store Bought Pickles
Where we live, there are only a couple of organic pickles available at the local natural foods stores and both of them contain that dreaded ingredient – natural flavors. Natural flavors are chemicals added to foods to trick your taste buds into thinking a food is tasty and ‘fresh’. IFF, International Flavors and Fragrances, is America’s biggest taste and smell chemical manufacturer. In their huge laboratory off the New Jersey Turnpike, the lab workers create the flavors and scents that are packed into everything from oven cleaner to pickle relish. The only difference between a natural flavor and an artificial flavor is that the ‘natural’ one must have, at some point, derived from a food, whereas the ‘artificial’ one can be from a purely chemical origin. There are no health benefits to eating chemical additives, but the inclusion of them in processed foods enables food corporations to mask the tastelessness of old, low quality food, fooling Americans into thinking that what they are eating is delicious.
Whole foods taste great naturally when they are grown with care and freshly prepared. No chemical additives required. It’s a huge disappointment to see Whole Foods 365 Brand Organic Pickles and Cascadian Farms Organic Pickles and Relishes resorting to the use of chemicals instead of quality ingredients in their pickle offerings and our family will not buy them. We prefer to make our own, anyway, and you’ll never have a crisper more flavorsome pickle than the one you’ve made yourself.
Quick Pickles Are A Cinch And A Super Summer Idea
Pickling was invented as a method of preserving foods through the cold winter months when fewer fresh choices are available, and the art of safe long-term pickling is a smart one for self-sufficient families to learn. There’s another type of pickle, however, that is meant to put pickles on the table just hours after picking the cucumbers off the vine or bringing them home from the farmers market. It’s hard to beat the refreshing iciness of fresh sliced cucumber, but for some meals, you absolutely yearn for the salty tang of pickles and if you know you’re going to be making such a meal that night, you can throw together a quick pickle recipe earlier in the day and have the pickles ready by the time the family is saying grace that evening! This is a summertime recipe meant to make the most of your local cucumber harvest and to be enjoyed right now. I hope you will try this quick pickle recipe and tell me how you like it.
My Scrumptious, Crisp Quick Pickle Recipe
Choosing Your Cucumbers
Loyal Vegan Reader readers will not be surprised to hear me saying that home-grown cucumbers of any variety are going to make the very best pickles, but your next best choice are the cucumbers grown by local farmers. Visit farm stands and farmers markets in the summer months and take your pick of the best of what’s in season. Cucumbers must be firm and unwrinkled. Don’t be afraid to ask the farmer when the cucumbers were picked. You will make the best pickles from cucumbers that were picked this morning, or at the very least, within the last 2-3 days.
Commercially-produced pickles are typically made with a single type of cucumber, but when you make quick pickles, you can use any type of cucumber you fancy.
These are the relatively small, bumpy pickles typically used in commercial pickle production as well as home pickling. They have dense flesh and small seeds but yield a very juicy pickle. When pickled whole, these are the cucumbers that create the classic Kosher Dill, but in the quick pickling process, you’ll be slicing these into thin slices, more like bread and butter pickles. Pickling cucumbers are most people’s top choice for pickle recipes.
While I love the bumpy little pickling cucumbers, lemon cucumbers are my favorite all-around cuke. About the size of a tennis ball, lemon cucumbers are an heirloom variety with a beautiful yellow skin and very high water content. The seeds are larger than those of the pickling cucumber. In terms of flavor, they are quite similar to any other type of cucumber, but their moist flesh makes them the most refreshing of them all, in my opinion. By thinly slicing lemon cucumbers in uniform rounds, you can make some truly great quick pickles.
Slicers are the variety you are most likely to see in regular supermarkets. Oblong, large and with a dark green, smooth skin, slicing cucumbers are the ones you encounter at salad bars. Due to globalization of America’s food system, conventional supermarkets carry these fruits year-round, but they are simply not worth buying out of season. They have a nasty, bitter skin and not much else in their favor. During the summer months, however, slicing cucumbers are quite refreshing. Their flesh has a lower water content than that of the lemon and pickling cucumbers and they make nice large pickle slices in a quick pickle recipe. They are my 3rd choice for pickle making, but if all you can find are slicers, they will make fine quick pickles for dinner tonight.
In addition to this, there are the pale green Armenian cucumbers which look like flowers when sliced and there are European varieties, too. Don’t get stuck in a cucumber rut! It’s worth pickling just about any cucumber you can find.
Of Herbs and Spices
You can make quick pickles with nothing fancier than vinegar and salt, but a few extra touches will take your quick pickles from fine to fantastic. Our family votes for garlic dill pickles as best of all pickle varieties. Our typical pickle recipe includes a bunch of fresh dill, a few cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper and vinegar, but you can experiment with mustard seed, capers, chopped hot or sweet peppers and other spices. When you make your own pickles, it’s all up to you!
Choosing Vinegar For Quick Pickles
Pickles that are canned to last for many months have very specific requirements when it comes to the acidity of the vinegar needed to keep pickles safe and prevent bacteria from growing. With quick pickles, however, you have more leeway because they are eaten up quickly and the refrigerator keeps them safe. We like to experiment with our vinegars. You can try rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and white vinegar to discover which one yields the type of acidity and flavor you prefer in your pickles.
What You Need
Winter storage pickle recipes call for large quantities of pickles, but because quick pickles are meant to be eaten within about 10 days, you really only need a few pickles to make enough for a family feast or two. Our recipe here has been ultra-simplified to provide a single 1 pint mason jar of pickles. You can scale the recipe up for more pickles if you’re feeding a crowd.
Do Buy Organic
The majority of pickles produced in the United States are so laden with pesticides, they ought to have skulls and cross bones on their labels. Don’t put poison on the family table. Buy organic cucumbers and make sure the vinegar, herbs and spices you use are organic, too. Where we live, even the commercial organic pickles don’t cut the mustard for us because of the addition of ‘natural flavors’. We want safe, chemical-free food to eat. What we don’t produce on our farm, we buy from our neighbors who are also committed to farming organically. Food is life, and we don’t know of anything more important to spend our time and money on than quality, safe food.
The freshest cucumbers you can find (1 large slicer, 2 lemon cucumbers or 3 pickling cucumbers)
1 pint of vinegar
1 small bunch fresh dill
3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons salt
A shake of black pepper
*Feel free to add your own secret ingredients.
5 Quick Steps To Quick Pickles
1. Take your largest pot and fill with water. Bring it to a boil.
2. Drop the mason jar and lid into the water and let boil for about 30 seconds. Remove.
3. Thoroughly wash the exterior of your cucumbers. Slice into uniform, thin rounds.
4. Places your dill, garlic, salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices in the jar. Put in cucumbers.
5. Pour vinegar in to cover the pickles and seal up with your lid.
That’s all there is to it! In about 4 hours, the pickles will be ready to eat and they just get better after a few days, too. We often consume a whole batch at a single dinner, but the pickles will stay good in the refrigerator for about 10 days if you’d like to make them last longer and aren’t quite as voracious about pickles as we are!
The Main Difference Between Quick Pickles And Traditional Pickle Recipes
Because traditional pickles sit for months or years in jars, their color tends to turn to that familiar olive green. They are perfectly safe if they’ve been canned in a sanitary manner, but their appearance is different than that of quick pickles. The skin of quick pickles retains its fresh green (or yellow in the case of lemon cucumber pickles) color and the flesh of each pickle will still be fairly white instead of olive hued. The taste is fresher and more immediate in its appeal, and we think of quick pickles more as a special type of marinated vegetable than an item meant for winter storage. Cucumbers are simply so succulent that they deserve to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible during their glorious summer season, don’t you think?
Please, give our quick pickle recipe a try. You’re about to discover that ‘natural flavors’ are simply not needed when the ingredients are fresh and the food is prepared with care and a good intention of providing something that is truly wholesome to eat. Feel great that you aren’t paying for a fancy label, gasoline-guzzling long range shipping and the deceptive tricks of commercially processed foods that have separated our society from the real taste of natural goodness.
*Take your homemade refrigerator pickles on a picnic in the cooler. A snappy condiment for all to enjoy in the great outdoors.
*These quick pickles are a sublime addition to potato salad.
*Layer these crisp pickle slices on a vegan cheese sandwich for an incredible lunch.
*Make a real Southern supper with baked beans, sweet potatoes, greens, jonny cakes and a scintillating side dish of homemade pickles. They lend just the right sharp note to the menu!
Get 100+ fantastic vegan, gluten free, soy free recipes all in one place in The Vegan Reader Cookbook, all for the affordable cost of $9.95. Get this downloadable cookbook today and gain the skills you need to make staples like rice and almond milk, vegan cheese and gluten free breads from scratch, and so much more! Save money and eat better than you ever have in your life. This cookbook is based on 20 years of vegan cooking on our family farm! We’re sharing our best recipes with you, in one easy, affordable, downloadable book. Read More!