Summer’s in full swing. Some celebrate with vacations, trips to the beach and barbecues, and I celebrate with pickles. In addition to the onslaught of zucchinis at the market, pickling cucumbers come out to play in the summer in a big way. There are several varieties in season right now, and trust me, you’ll be able to tell which are pickling cucumbers. Their dark green, pimply exteriors give them away in an instant.
I’ve always loved pickles, and I recently discovered that pickles can actually be good for you! Vegetables, obviously, are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s the pickling aspect of pickled vegetables that make them unique.
To pickle a vegetable means preserving it through fermenting in a brine commonly made with a vinegar. Vinegar helps your digestive system, improving the absorption and utilization of the nutrients in your food. The fermenting that goes on with the vinegar, salt and your spices kills any bad bacteria, creates healthy (and buzzwordy) probiotics, and partially breaks the food down, making it easier to handle in our guts. But, with all of this awesomeness said, pickling does require a healthy dose of salt, so if you need to watch the salt, be mindful of how much you’re eating. Or, in this case, make your own with a little less salt.
You can pickle cucumbers (and a lot of other great vegetables) in a variety of ways, but I prefer the quick pickle. It doesn’t require any heat and is, like in the name, quick! Also, you can reuse the pickle juice after the pickles are gone, especially if your small table go through pickles like crazy. After a month, refresh your brine.
- 5-6 small (4-5 inch) pickling cucumbers
- 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (4-5% acidity)
- 6 garlic cloves, halved
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 3 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 16 fresh dill springs
- 2 cups water
Clean and slice the cucumbers in quarters, or halves, depending on the size of your pickles. Pack cucumbers and dill in 2 clean 16oz glass jars.
In a pitcher (or shaker cup), combine vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander, and garlic, shake/stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the water into the pitcher, then evenly pour out over the vegetables until completely covered in the brine.
Close jars and refrigerate overnight before enjoying. Enjoy within a month.
Recipe adapted from Grace Parisi, Food and Wine.