The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.
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Make Your Own Pickles. [Things You Can And Ought To Do With A Big Batch Of Cucumbers]
Posted Sep 10, 2012 by Jeff Houck
Updated Sep 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM
My Facebook friend Jennifer Leland Collette lobbed a challenge at a handful of her online pals:
I have cucumbers and pickling spice. Now I need a good recipe for refrigerator pickles. Can anyone help me out?
You’ve come to the right place, Jennifer.
First, because I love pickles.
Second, because I love making them.
There really are few culinary joys like eating cold. fresh, homemade refrigerator pickles. Especially in someplace hot like, oh, I don’t know ... FLORIDA.
Here are a couple recipes for you to try.
The first comes from the Tampa Tribune archives, direct from the May 1998 Recipes Lost & Found column.
The recipe for the Asian-inspired pickle comes from the brilliant and talented Marisa McClellan, who does the outstanding blog FoodInJars.com
As I wrote in a 2012 profile, Marisa learned to can foods from her mom while growing up in Portland, Ore. From the time she was about 12 years old, McClellan and her family would pick blueberries and blackberries on nearby Sauvie Island and take them home to make jam.
She remembers washing the berries when they got home, squishing them with their hands to make pulp, adding sugar, and cooking the mixture with lemon, cinnamon or other spices.
When she was in her late 20s, McClellan moved to Philadelphia and edited the popular blog Slashfood, continuing to can seasonal foods in her high-rise apartment.
She left Slashfood in 2009 and started a food blog of her own based on her favorite hobby. The Web site FoodInJars.com was born.
The blog has become a hit with food lovers. In 2010, it earned a Best Food Blog nomination from Saveur magazine.
“I decided there was a void in canning, and I knew how to do it and had been doing it for years,” she said. Along with canning recipes, McClellan also writes about using jars as storage and about all types of food kept in jars.
Her Asian-Inspired Refrigerator Pickles earned rave reviews from commenters on the site.
“I made these and they are fantastic!” one wrote. “A perfect way to use the loads of cukes already bursting forth from our wee community garden plot.”
“Those pickles are a revelation,” McClellan told me. “Homemade pickles versus what you get at the store? It’s an entirely different set of flavors. You’ll never buy pickles after you make your own.”
And that’s the bottom line, she says.
“People are tired of just having their food preprogrammed,” she says. “It’s time for food to taste good.”
* * * *
7 cups cucumbers, sliced
1 cup onion, sliced
1 green pepper, finely sliced
2 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
Combine cucumbers, onions and green peppers in a bowl. Add sugar, vinegar, salt, celery and mustard seeds; mix well.
Cover; store in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.
Pickles will last up to three months in the refrigerator.
Variation: Add garlic, dill, oregano or hot pepper sauce.
* * * *
ASIAN-INSPIRED REFRIGERATOR PICKLES
5-6 kirby (pickling) cucumbers, each cut into six spears
1 chili pepper
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar (Look for a brand that uses sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s makes a good one.)
2 limes, juiced
3-4 scallions, chopped (greens and whites)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 sprigs of mint, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pack the cucumber spears into a quart jar. Slide the chili pepper down in among the cucumber spears. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, scallions, garlic cloves, mint and salt. Pour over the cucumbers. Using your fingers, poke some of the garlic slivers, mint and scallion down amid the cucumbers. Screw a lid on the jar, and holding it over the sink (in case of leaks) invert the jar and give it a good shake, in order to distribute all the delicious bits.
Let your pickles sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.