Pickling is a tradition thousands of years old. According to lots of internet sources, Christopher Columbus planted cucumbers when the ship was in port to fight scurvy among his crew. According to those same sources, Cleopatra attributed her beauty to all of the pickles in her diet. There’s a remarkable amount of information out there on pickles, but I tried to focus on searching for recipes to match my supplies.
Garlic Scape Pickles
The garlic scapes were getting a bit wilty – so i coiled them up in a jar and poured a vinegar and spice solution over them. I double-checked the recipe – really? Could it be this easy to “pickle” something? Hm. These have been sitting in the fridge waiting for August, when they will be ready to eat. **Disclaimer** I really need to work on my food photography skills – this picture does no justice to these beautiful little things! Ah well.
Since the pickled scapes were so easy, my mind started off in a thousand directions about all of the possibilities for pickling. We’ve had a pretty steady supply of beets coming to us in our share every week, so I pickled a couple of jars of those. I found plenty of recipes for pickling beets. Most of them featured a heavy concentration of sugar in the vinegar solution and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves. I decided to trust the majority consensus here and used the most common ingredients to make my own personal recipe.
This is an obvious next step. I mean, most people – at least most Americans – think of cucumber pickles when they imagine a “pickle.” I live with two huge fans of the Bread and Butter Pickle, so I decided to start there. I got lucky with the first recipe I tried – they are really good. I canned several batches of those and stored them away for later.
Classic Dill Pickles: This was my next challenge. The biggest challenge here was finding fresh dill. I don’t know why there isn’t more of it around, but it took me several days of hunting around before I found a farm stand willing to cut some for me. I took it home and made the pickles that night so that the dill would be as fresh as possible. They look amazing in their jars. I have no idea whether or not they taste good. I also canned those and stored them with the bread and butter pickles.
Pickle Relish: You know, the kind you put on hot dogs? That’s basically just tiny pickles. The farm has a box of “utility” size summer squash and zucchini that they sell for $0.50/lb. I picked up a giant zucchini (almost the size of my arm) and used it for this relish. It is amazing! It tastes and looks like regular hot dog relish. I don’t know what I will do with 6 jars of hot dog relish, but it was a good project.
I can see the value – it’s an easy way to preserve locally-grown produce while maximizing savings. I’m not sure how many pickles a single family can consume, but I think we’ll be prepared no matter what.