I know I usually write about ice cream, but Ed's recent diet posts have inspired me to contribute something about pickles. To me, aside from the whole sodium content thing, they are the ultimate guilt-free snacking food: crunchy, juicy, and best eaten with your fingers. Most have between zero and twenty calories per serving, and with so many varieties—bread and butter, half-sour, and cute little cornichons to name just a few—you need not get bored with them. I've never understood why, when they are so delicious, pickles are primarily used as garnishes, tossed onto the rims of sandwich plates and buried beneath showers of potato chips. In my mind, a bowl of pickles is just as worthy of hors d'oeuvre status as a bowl of olives!
This past summer I began to experiment with making my own. The recipes I tried were all for simple refrigerator pickles, so there was no arduous canning process, and most were ready to be eaten within a day or two. Here is my favorite version, which is loosely based on a recipe by Alton Brown that I found on the Food Network website.
- 1/2 a white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 hothouse cucumbers, sliced into thick rounds
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- Handful chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups vinegar (can use a combination of white, red wine, cider, champagne, etc.)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon pickling spice
Put the onion slices, cucumber slices, garlic, and dill in a large mason jar. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 minutes. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers, filling the jar all the way to the top. Screw the lid on tightly, give the jar a good shake, and refrigerate. Pickles are ready the next day.