Judy Baum had never made pickles before Easter of this year. All that work sterilizing jars, fussing with boiling water and second guessing whether the lid actually sealed was too much for her.
And why put up pickles when there’s only one at home?
But she ran across a recipe for Cucumber Apple Pickles on the Internet during one her routine recipe searches. And she just had to try them.
This difference is that these were fresh pickles, small batches of pickles you make up and eat within a couple of days or weeks. You don’t have to seal the jar. You don’t even have to sterilize it, though if you’re reusing a jar, it might help to wash it out. You wouldn’t want any leftover peanut butter tainting the flavor.
Baum, who lives in Live Oak, stayed away from making pickles because too many of the recipes called for a gallon of this or a bushel of that, far too much for a single person to think about.
Plus, fresh pickles take no longer to make than any other side dish. And they can add plenty of tangy flavor.
What can be pickled? You’re limited only as far as your imagination, of course. You can make pickled beets or chowchow, green tomatoes or piccalilli with cauliflower.
Pickled green beans can be used as on a relish tray or in a Bloody Mary. Cabbage is the basis or a tart curtido, or Salvadoran slaw, like the one you find at the various La Playa restaurants in town.
Pickled red onions, as most Mexican food fans know, are great with cochinita pibil. One place you’ll find this flavorful treat is at Guajillo’s on Blanco Road at Loop 410.
Even if you have a bountiful harvest, you may want to think of fresh pickles for some of it, because you are able to cut back on the amount of sodium and sugar, both of which are used as preservatives, and without sacrificing any flavor.
Raw food fans out there, you can also do raw pickles if you like, using agave nectar instead of sugar for pickled cucumbers, onions or radishes.
Play with the recipe to suit your needs. For her Cucumber Apple Pickles, Baum used small cucumbers and cider vinegar, which she found a great match for the apple.
“I combined the brine in a baggie, then added the squeezed-out cucumbers and apple, put the baggie in a bowl and turned it around several times,” she said. “I also used more than a pinch of the red pepper threads. It didn’t seem to be too much heat.”
She served the pickles at Easter dinner, and her friends ate most of them that evening. The rest were gone by the end of the week.
The pickles may be gone, but Baum’s hunger to make more remains.
Links to Recipes: