|In a pickle? Have a pickle|
I was a very picky child, unlikely to try onions, tomatoes, or mushrooms and generally preferring only minimally colored items made of bread and cheese. Grandma's dill pickles provided a definite exception. One of the things I loved, and as a child was somewhat astounded by, was the way the flavor overtook the onion wedges included in the jar, and suddenly made onions delicious. Dill pickled onions were just about the only way my mom could get me to eat them.
Pickling, a form of fermentation, is one of the oldest ways of preserving food. Original fermentation was nothing more than storing foods in tightly covered holes in the ground. Brine protects foods in a number of ways: it provides a physical buffer against oxygen, preventing aerobic spoilage microbes and basic oxidization and also contributes copious amounts of acid and salt. These conditions are rather inhospitable to many, but make a perfect home for lactic acid bacteria, who further acidify and digest the pickles, driving out unicellular competition and creating entirely new flavor compounds. Pickling was essential at a time when refrigeration did not exist and families needed to extend the life of foods through harsh winter conditions, but now we can just enjoy it because it tastes good.
|No need for a hole in the ground!|
|FYI - your garlic may turn slightly blue - that's OK|
Adapted from Lula Mae Taylor's recipe
36 cucumbers, 4" or longer
3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
6 tbs sea salt
4 yellow onions, sliced to wedges
2 tsp fresh or dried dill
8 cloves garlic
8 tsp mustard seed
4 1-quart jars
Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Fill a separate, large stock pot with water and bring it to a boil, too.
|Fill 'er up|