Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

In a Pickle

A while back, I had the opportunity to take in a lovely pickling crock from my mother's family. Now, to be clear, this was no country affectation. Her "people" (yes I am from people who refer to other folk's families as their people, which caused me a great deal of confusion as a child) are pickle makers from way back and I grew up expecting a relish tray at each and every one of our family gatherings in Pennsylvania. If you've never been to a table with a relish tray, you are missing out.

Modernizing the process, my grandmother had turned to stove top and refrigerator methods by the time I came along, so the smell of slow simmering vinegar means I'm home (that plus a heady cloud of bacon fat lingering in the air.) But back to the crock which had been sitting pretty in my bedroom for months, mocking my pickle-less life.

That all changed in the past week. First, I picked up a wondrous bag of Kirby's from that good ol' bargain bin, and then I saw what the always-inspiring Smitten Kitchen had up her apron with some bread and butter pickles. Clearly pickles and their briny scent were on the early summer breeze.

Of course, I didn't have all of the right ingredients, and I wasn't about to go out and buy the spices I needed. But that's ok. The pickle is a pretty resilient recipe, and these semi-sweet, mildly garlicky pickle chips brightened up the snack hour on our terrace. Yes, there was a relish tray. I'd put them somewhere between sweet & sour and dill (minus the dill) refrigerator pickles. Make sense? Sure it does.

Cumin-Garlic Refrigerator Pickles

10-12 kirby cucumbers

2 Tablespoons course salt (sea salt)

3 cups watter

2 cups white vinegar

¾ c. sugar

4 cloves of garlic, minced

pinch of cumin*

Clean and slice cucumbers into ½ inch slices. Place in a colander or sieve over a large bowl. Toss with salt and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Drain the cucumbers and wash off the salt. Dry the cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Mix in a pinch of ground cumin.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the water, vinegar, sugar and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes.

Pour liquid over cucumbers and let sit in refrigerator, covered, overnight or for 8 hours.

Keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, if you can.

* A pinch is in the fine tradition of my grandmother's recipes, which also included smidgens and dollops. This pinch is for you, Grammy Ru.

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