I’m sure this is true for everyone, but I’ve lately noticed that there’s really no rhyme or reason in how I determine which things I like and which things I don’t. Take music, for instance. I was listening to one of my favorite summer playlists on my iPod today when “These Words” by Natasha Bedingfield came on. As I was silently grooving along, I realized that, by all accounts, this isn’t a song I would normally like. The chorus is borderline moronic (“I love you I love you I love you I love you– just get a load of the nuance in those lyrics), and even worse, she pronounces hyperbole “hyper-bowl.” But you know what, I don’t care. I love that song. It makes me want to drive around with the windows down, sipping on some sweet, fruity beverage.
By contrast, Florence + The Machine should be right up my alley. She’s creative, quirky and hippie, and her songs seem ready-made for 20-something ladies like myself. I blame this one mostly on the retail establishment where I work; I used to like Florence, but since they blast three of her more annoying hits at least twice during each of my shifts, her music now makes my skin crawl. Furthermore, I’m convinced that she writes her lyrics by stringing together random words and wailing them. Take this line from “Rabbit Heart”: “This is a giiiift!!! It comes with a priiiice!!!” Well, which is it, Florence? I’m pretty sure the distinctive feature of a gift is that it doesn’t come with a price. And don’t even get me started on “Spectrum.” Someone just please say her name, and quick, so she’ll stop squalling.
There aren’t many parallels to this when it comes to food, because there are so few foods that I don’t like. But as I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m not a big cucumber fan. I’d like to be, but I’m just not. I was actually at the farmers market earlier today when one of the vendors asked if I’d like to sample one of her baby cucumbers. I said thank you and ate the whole thing, mainly because in that setting, I think I’d get beaten up for admitting that I don’t like cucumbers. But it just didn’t float my boat. You know what does, though? Dill pickles. You know, cucumbers, with lots of salt and vinegar added. Makes perfect sense to me.
Because my kitchen is currently overrun with cukes from my CSA, I decided I had very little to lose by attempting to pickle a few of them. I was truly surprised by how easy this was. Canning and pickling are pretty trendy these days, but I still imagined that this would be a long, difficult process involving sterilizing solutions and hot water baths. But I was wrong! These pickles took me 10 minutes at most to put together, and four short days to ferment. Granted, I’m not sure how long they’ll keep, since I didn’t use the hot water process method, but these are so tasty that I doubt it’ll be an issue.
The recipe called for only cucumbers, dill, and garlic cloves, but since I also have a plethora of garlic scapes hanging out in my kitchen, I threw in a couple of those, too. I haven’t tried the pickled scapes yet, but I bet they’ll be delicious to snack on, too.
After I stuffed my jar with dill sprigs, garlic cloves, and garlic scapes, I added the cucumber spears. Since this was a test batch, I used a small jar; I could only fit one cuke in there.
The recipe I used advised me to add water to the jar, one cup at a time, and then add a tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for every three cups of water. One cup was all it took to fill my jar, but I was generous with the salt and vinegar anyway. Once the jar was full of liquid, I topped it off with more dill sprigs and garlic cloves, capped it, and stuck it in a sunny window.
Four days later, it was time to test ’em out. Their color had dulled, as I assumed it would, and the liquid looked sufficiently briny. The jar also let out a little “kkshhhhk” as I opened it, which I took as a good sign.
Oh, sweet pickle magic! These things are super tasty. I feel much more excited about my huge cucumber pile now that I have this trick in my arsenal. Good thing I have several bigger jars.
And now I’m off to munch on the rest of these pickles while I contemplate dinner… and relish, and hamburger chips…
Homemade Dill and Garlic Pickles
adapted from KosherFood.about.com
3-4 pounds young and small cucumbers
2-4 sprigs of fresh dill
6-8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and cut in half
1-2 garlic scapes, if available
In a large, clean jar, place 2 sprigs of dill and 3-4 cloves of garlic. Wash and snip off ends of cucumbers, then cut them into spears. Put cucumbers in the jar until it is full.
Add water to the jar, one cup at a time. Then add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for every 3 cups of water added. (If you like crunchier pickles, add more vinegar. I probably ended up with 2 tablespoons of vinegar for my one cup of water.) Top with 2 more sprigs of dill and 3-4 more cloves of garlic.
Once the jar is filled to the top, seal jar. Gently shake to mix. Set in window or outside where it will get some sun. Allow approximately 4 days for fermenting. If you like more sour pickles, can can let them stay in the jar for an extra day or two. Refrigerate after opening.