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Easy dill pickles to refrigerate start with fresh pickled cucumbers, which are widely available at farmers markets in late summer. [Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Old-fashioned bread and butter pickles are flavored with brown sugar and onion, with turmeric adding a lovely golden hue. [Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Pickled peaches are easy to make and will add a surprising, summery twist to ice cream or pound cake. [Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Pickled peaches are easy to make and will add a surprising, summery twist to ice cream or pound cake. [Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Quick and easy recipes are not limited to cucumbers

The adoration of pickles amid the ambivalence towards cucumbers may seem like a strange contradiction.

Most of my adult years, however, were spent in that opposite camp. Commercially canned cucumbers were pantry staples while I shrugged off fresh-picked, garden-grown cucumbers, specifically the lemon variety my family favors.

Then I appreciated the usefulness of cucumbers during a time of year when green salads start to disappear from our menus. A bowl of quick pickles at my family table makes a palate-cleansing side dish with almost any summer meal: roast chicken, Thai curry, turkey meatloaf, even homemade macaroni and cheese with sautéed Swiss chard or cabbage. And that’s before we even consider layering them on burgers or sandwiches.

I should probably thank my youngest son, a vegetable lover but particularly fond of all things pickled. Raw turnip and onion tempt your appetite, even more so as a pickle. Following traditional Mexican taquerias, I expanded our quick pickles to carrots and radishes. I already pickled the chiles in larger batches towards the end of the gardening season for longer storage in the fridge.

But small-batch canning safeguards the home cook’s and gardener’s schedule at the height of summer yield. Cut up a couple of cucumbers and combine them with a cup of salty and sweetened vinegar. This is. I don’t even bother transferring them to a jar unless there are leftovers, a rarity after a family meal.

Small-batch pickling, and quick consumption, also suits lemon cucumbers, which are too juicy and juicy to last long in the fridge. After a few days, they begin to disintegrate. So for a product that will keep up to a month, I choose a true pickle variety, although the common sliced ​​types and even Persian and Armenian cucumbers work well for just a couple of pints of pickle

Since these pickles are not intended for long-term storage at room temperature, please consider the quantities of product and vinegar solution more than one ratio. While a traditional canning recipe must be followed strictly, there is room for maneuver for foods stored at 40 degrees or colder. Just be sure to wash the produce well and pack it in clean, covered containers, preferably glass.

If you only have a pound or half a dozen cucumbers, divide the liquid ingredients accordingly. When the amount of brine is more than I need to cover the vegetables, I store it in the fridge for a future batch. The amounts of sugar or salt can also be adjusted without fear of compromising the safety of the final product.

However, a critical mass of sugar can go a long way to sweeten lackluster fruit picked unripe and sent to grocery stores. For stone fruits that won’t soften on the counter but are starting to turn mealy, a quick pickling solution can save them. For ripe, but not mushy peaches, the following recipe brings out their natural sweetness and makes a sweet addition to ice cream and pound cake.

But don’t stop there. I’ve pickled grapes, apples, and blueberries in the fall to serve alongside the heartiest meals of the cold season. It’s worth making them in larger batches, perhaps, to enjoy with cheese and charcuterie dishes. So are quick cucumber pickles, if there are any left.

Contact Features Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or

Bread and butter pickle

2 pounds pickled cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of white vinegar

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons of mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of celery seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

In a large, shallow bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions, and salt; cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the cucumbers to a colander and rinse well with cold water. Drain well and return the vegetables to the bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and ground turmeric. Bring to medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumber mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature, then ladle into mason jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate for 24 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickle

12 pickled cucumbers

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half

3 teaspoons of mustard seeds

3 teaspoons of peppercorns

1 bunch of dill sprigs

4 cups of distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup cane sugar

4 tablespoons of sea salt

Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into quarters, or eighths, depending on how fat the cucumber is and how much fat you want pickled. To make dill pickle chips, thinly slice them horizontally.

Divide the sliced ​​cucumbers among 4 (8-ounce) mason jars. Divide the garlic, mustard seeds and peppercorns between jars; add a couple of dill sprigs to each jar.

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt with 4 cups water; bring to medium heat over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and pour in the cucumbers. Set the jars aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

The pickles will have more flavor the longer they are in the refrigerator. They can be stored for several weeks.

Quick red onion pickle

1 medium red onion (about 8 ounces), peeled

1 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons spices, such as black or pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, or juniper berries (optional)

Prepare a spotlessly clean 1 1/2-cup glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice the onion into 1/8-inch-thick slices, from the stem end to the root. Place the onion slices in a colander in the sink, separating the slices into rings.

Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the onion rings. Jar them.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, if using, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour it into the jar, mash the onion rings so they are completely submerged and close the lid. Cool completely on the counter before using, for 1 to 2 hours (but the flavor will improve over the next 2 days). Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe from “Tasting Paris” by Clotilde Dussoulier.

Quick Pickled Peaches

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon of chopped red pepper

2 teaspoons of whole black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cinnamon stick (2 inches), broken into small pieces

4 large, slightly firm peeled peaches

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except peaches with 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat; leave to rest for 10 minutes. Cut each peach into 12 wedges. Add peaches to vinegar mixture and let sit for 20 minutes. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon.

Makes about 2 cups.

— Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from

Quick pickled apples

1 cup of white wine vinegar

1 cup of honey

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

1 teaspoon of salt

1 whole nutmeg, cracked

1 vanilla bean, divided

1 1/2 pounds sweet/tart apples such as Braeburn or Gala

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar and honey with 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the cinnamon, paprika, salt, nutmeg and split vanilla. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to marry the flavors.

While the liquid is simmering, cut the apples into quarters (no need to peel them). Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place in a nonreactive bowl.

Once the liquid has simmered, remove from the heat and pour the liquid and spices over the apples. Weigh the apples down with a heavy plate so they are submerged in liquid.

Refrigerate the apples for at least a day for the flavors to develop. The pickles will last, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Makes a generous quarter.

Quick pickled blueberries

2 cups of cider vinegar

2 cups of water

2 cups of maple syrup

3 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

4 whole star anise

Zest from 2 oranges (zest cut into long strips with a vegetable peeler or knife)

About 1 tablespoon of very thinly sliced ​​fresh ginger

2 bags (10 ounces) fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed)

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar and maple syrup with 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, orange zest and ginger. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to marry the flavors. Add the blueberries to the liquid. As soon as the liquid boils again, remove it from the heat.

Pour the blueberries, liquid and spices into a non-reactive bowl. Weigh the blueberries down with a heavy plate so they are submerged in liquid.

Refrigerate the blueberries for at least a day to allow the flavors to develop. The pickles will last, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Makes a generous quarter.


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