Flashback: It was the 1990s.
I remember my mom spending hours canning green beans in a large metal pressure cooker. Sterilizing dozens of jars, carefully lifting jars them in and out of boiling water with tongs, lots of steam. It was hot. Very hot. And…I don’t know – it’s all fuzzy from there. The whole ordeal looked as complicated and intense as open heart surgery to me. I only paid attention long enough to express my complete horror that we were preserving food we had grown in our backyard.
“Why can’t we eat green beans out of cans like everyone else?! This is SO embarrassing.”
Nothing good came from mason jars. I had seen the rows of dusty cob-webbed mystery items lining the shelves of relatives’ cellars and pantries. And after seeing those jars of pickled eggs and pickled pigs feet on convenience store counters, I was convinced nothing worth eating was pickled.
Apparently, growing up in the South can really turn you off to pickling.
Fast forward to 2013
It is now a mark of domestic super-heroism to grown and preserve your own food. Urban and backyard gardens, fermentation, and canning are the coolest things since a homemade slice of gluten-free Paleo bread with local grass-fed butter on top.
And here I am. Age 34. Making pickles.
Only WITHOUT the scary metal pressure cooker and with ONE cucumber, not 2 dozen. I don’t want to be eating these pickles until I’m in my 50s. I’m not preserving food for the long, hard winter or my survival bunker. I would just like some pickles for, ya’ know, the next few days.
Behold the genius of small batch pickling!! I used this recipe from Martha Stewart as a guide and made some modifications to reduce the sugar and make it healthier (i.e. using raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, a probiotic that’s excellent for digestion).
Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles
1 English cucumber, sliced thin (I like them sliced very thin, almost shaved, but slice to your preferred size)
1/2 small yellow onion, preferably Vidalia or another sweet onion, sliced 1/4″
2 stalks of celery, sliced 1/4″ thick
3/4 c. Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar such as Bragg’s
2-3 Tbs. Sucanat (depending on how sweet you like your pickles)
1 tsp. Pickling Seasoning (I used this blend by Spicely; found in spice section at Whole Foods)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
In a plastic colander over a medium bowl, add sliced cucumbers, onions, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and let set for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. (This is drawing water out of the vegetables.)
In a small bowl (or a glass Pryex measuring cup for easier pouring), combine the apple cider vinegar, Sucanat, and pickling seasoning. Whisk and let sit for a few minutes until the Sucanat dissolves.
Remove the cucumber mixture from the colander and divide evenly into airtight containers. I used 2 4-oz. Ball glass mason jars. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers and seal jars. Refrigerate for 8 hours.
NOTE: I tested the pickles after only an hour in the fridge and they already tasted amazing! These would be great with some pulled pork, or just eaten plain right out of the jar:)