I made a jar of pickles for my brother, an individual who devours salt and vinegar potato chips and chases them with pickle juice. I never understood this. I also never understood the need to purchase barrels of neon cheese balls. He assures me they're made with real cheese. I'm skeptical. I'm confident his stomach is made of lead or else he's on the fast track to an ulcer. Regardless, he seems unaffected by this extreme daily dose of vinegar, sodium, and acid. I know he's waiting for a batch of these, green tomatoes so vinegary, they kick you right in the mouth. I like a vinegar punch with my green tomatoes too, but wanted to try a slightly sweeter version. I was looking for everyday pickles, the kind meant for stuffing inside sandwiches and nibbling straight from the jar. I came across a recipe for Danish cucumbers while reading Robin Mather's The Feast Nearby.
The Feast Nearby is an account of one woman's quest to eat local and seasonal food, preparing only home cooked meals, all on forty dollars a week. Hard times brought her to these circumstances. Mather was a food journalist at the Chicago Times who lost her job the same week her husband asked for a divorce. She returned to her roots in Michigan, to a modest lake house, and found strength in the face of challenge. She stretched the idea of having a well- stocked pantry to a whole new level, canning, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, you name it. She even keeps chickens for eggs. The story is both humorous and insightful and made me take a closer look at how I could stretch my own budget.
When I drove by a farm stand over the weekend, I found pickling cucumbers and remembered her recipe I'd bookmarked the previous day. We had some cucumber stragglers from our pots, misfits that could find a home in the batch. I've adjusted Mather's recipe just a smidgen. The brine is made with apple cider vinegar, water, natural sugar, and pepper. They're quite easy and quick to whip up. Let them hang out in your fridge and shake them up once in a while. The sweetness mellows out over time and a nice vinegary twinge surfaces. I thought they reached their peak by day five. My brother thought so too. Inspired by Mather's story, I also picked this book up at my library and currently have sauerkraut fermenting in my basement. Somehow this might not surprise you. This is a first for me. Let's hope I don't poison myself. Fingers crossed.
~Quick Homemade Pickles Recipe~
Adapted from Robin Mather
8-10 small pickling cucumbers
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
few onion slices
1 mason jar
1 mason jar
Cut cucumbers into very thin slices. Stuff into a mason jar, along with onion slices until they reach the top, right before the neck of the jar. Combine apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add in pepper. Pour liquid over the pickles. Give the jar a good shake and place in the fridge. Pickles can be eaten in a few hours. However, they are much better in about three days, even better by day five. Makes one jar.