Pickle Me Green!

There's nothing quite like a delicious, crunchy pickle. And if you disagree, this is a topic we should never bring up in discussion, because you will always be wrong. Or we can be like Lily and Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, and I'll just eat all the pickles you won't eat. (Hey, at least there's more for me!) The pickle's perfect blend of vinegar and crunch is the perfect pairing for a burger, sandwich, or...another pickle! Personally, I prefer pickles by themselves, but, perhaps that's the German speaking. Vive la vinaigre! Avec tout! (Ironically enough, I don't speak any German...save for nein danke and bier bitte. But I guess French will do here)

I never used to read food labels extensively until fairly recently. Sure, I'd heard in my high school years that the fewer the ingredients in a food, the better. And of course, I went through my phase of I'll eat whatever, I don't care what's in it. It won't kill me! Over the past couple years, I've become more convinced that what we put in our bodies has monumental effects on not only our health, but our wellbeing and vitality. So much that I've become extremely skeptical of shelved foods. Just thinking of all the preservatives laced into my favorite packaged foods - ketchup, pickles, ice cream - now makes me uneasy. And (perhaps) it's a control thing, but personally I would like to know exactly what I'm putting into my body at all times by making food myself. Then there are no hidden surprises.

I remember picking a pickle jar out of my refrigerator a couple months ago during a pickle-craving phase of mine (quite a regular phenomenon: throughout my junior year, my roommate and I were known to go through many of these cycles. One month it was peanut butter, the next it was sourdough bread, then cashews...). I had recently bought the jar; in fact, it was unopened. Before I opened the jar, something made me think to look at the list of ingredients. Just for fun, right? Now I can't tell whether I'm glad I did or wish I hadn't. Needless to say, the garbage gained an entire jar of pickle friends that day. Tragic.

Processed foods are convenient, I will admit that. Nobody wants to spend the time figuring out the "natural flavors" that comprise a bottle of ketchup, a jar of pickles, or a can of Dr. Pepper and then go on their merry way to make it themselves. No! It's so much easier to put your trust in the experts who have carefully constructed your perfectly crunchy pickles and pick them up at the grocery store hours before the BBQ, ignoring the list of unpronounceable ingredients.

When I first started this lifestyle change ten weeks ago, I was unsure if I would ever eat another processed food - or condiment - again. I though maybe I would, after my system had cleared up and I wasn't in a constant state of nausea. However, after cooking all of my meals from scratch and carefully tracking the effects of different whole food items on my body, I can honestly say I'll opt out of consuming [insert unpronounceable ingredients], high fructose corn syrup, and various chemicals (which are all found outside of their natural state) most likely for the rest of my life. Even when experiencing a bout of side effects, I feel a million times better eating whole foods than I ever did eating processed foods. Is it countercultural? Yes. Will I do it anyway? Yes. Will it be worth it? Heck yes!

So today I decided to bring back the pickle! After mastering the art of sauerkraut, I feel pretty confident to take on this small feat. And really, making pickles is much easier than it may seem. All you need is the following ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, sliced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (or other seasonings, such as celery seeds, dill, or mustard)
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar (optional; if you're not a fan of sweetness, I would cut the sugar to 1 Tbsp or cut it completely since this recipe does yield a fairly sweet pickle)
  • 1 Tbsp Salt

Seriously, the ingredients list couldn't be any shorter (unless you cut out all but cucumber, salt, and vinegar, which wouldn't be bad by any means).

The Method:

  1. Chop up your veggies and place them in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to a low boil, making sure the sugar and salt granules are dissolved.
  3. While the vinegar solution is being heated, sterilize your voting container; I boiled water in a pot and dunked the lid components and my mason jar in for several minutes to kill any bacteria.
  4. Pour the vinegar solution over the cucumbers and veggies and let sit for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the juices.
  5. Transfer contents to your jar and store in the refrigerator!
 Just look at that garlic!

Just look at that garlic!

 Basting, basting, basting.

Basting, basting, basting.

 Not nearly enough...Maybe I'll make a double batch next time :)

Not nearly enough...Maybe I'll make a double batch next time :)

 These pickles pair perfectly with a nice lamb burger with sautéd onions!

These pickles pair perfectly with a nice lamb burger with sautéd onions!

Pickle me green, these yummy condiments are here to stay!

Like many of my recipes, this one is open to your creative interpretation. Spice things up with some jalapeño (or green chile if you're New Mexico spice savvy) or add an extra element of veggie-ness with some green bell peppers.