My grandmother pickles everything. Probably the reason my mother hates pickles. Luckily that skipped me and pickles quickly became one of my favorite foods as a kid. After getting to college and buying my first jars of non-homemade pickles, I was perturbed by how soggy and old they tasted. There was barely any crunch or color to the Vlasic’s I bought.
What I later found out, is that the waste water industrial cucumber pickling is characterized by: high chloride content, high oxygen demand, low pH, and high total and suspended solids. Not to mention the excessive amounts of water wasted used to accelerate production rates. The discharging of this pickle wastewater has potential to contaminate groundwater by run-off or seepage,making home pickling a much more environmentally and tasty option.
For an exciting Saturday afternoon activity, I went to a friends house and we went to town on refrigerator pickling. I combined all of these things (except the water) in a mason jar and then once mixed together filled with water half an inch from the top. It’s not necessary to use exactly the vegetables I used, any veggie pickled tastes yum! For a spicier version, add jalapenos to the mix!
- 2 pickling cucumbers (as many as you can fit in the jar)
- 1 medium sized carrot
- half of a spanish onion
- 1/4 of a red pepper
- a few hunks of cauliflower
- 5 sprigs of fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp dry dill)
- 2-4 cloves of garlic (or garlic scapes), crushed and minced (we use 4)
- 3 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
- ½ – 1 Tbsp kosher salt, to taste (I use ¾ Tbsp)
- distilled or filtered water – enough to top off jar
- 20 black peppercorns, optional
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
(This is in each mason jar, I made a total of 8)
The end result is jars of pickled veggies that after 2 shakings following a 12 hour rest period, are ready to eat! Although the total cost of my 8 jars of pickled veggies was slightly more than buying 8 jars of Vlasic dill pickles ($17 versus about $13), I used very little water in the process and plan to use my leftover pickle juice in a delicious dressing I make with plain yogurt and paprika.
The entire preparation of these 8 jars of pickles took about 30 minutes, and are easily a better alternative to store-bought pickles and the process used to produce them. Not only that, but you should have seen the look on some of my friends’ faces when I gifted them a jar of these guys!