Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking Pickles Off the Back Burner

So this weekend I caught up on a lot of things, like cleaning and packing five whole boxes of clutter for a giant garage sale next spring.  I felt like I should reward myself by tackling one of the "unnecessary" creative projects I've had sitting in my inspiration box for nearly five years now: homemade pickles.

Every single year when the world is inundated with so many cucumbers that people leave baskets of them in the office break room with a "free" sign, I sigh and say, "I should make pickles this year."  It never actually happens.  The reason it never actually happens is that I always assumed that pickling involved a huge, expensive, messy and complicated process. 

Then I found a recipe for cold-pack pickles on Dave's Cupboard.  It couldn't possibly be that easy...could it?  If the recipe was correct, the only thing I needed that I didn't already have was pickling salt, cucumbers and a few spices. 

So I grabbed some off-season cucumbers, dried spices (the grocery store didn't have fresh dill) and gave it a whirl.  I re-used some plastic yogurt containers to hold everything, sliced the big cucumbers into spears, and after about an hour's work I have four 1 quart containers of pickles brewing in the back of our fridge, each one with slight variations on the base recipe (extra spicy, extra garlic, extra dill). 

I love cold pack pickles:  They're much fresher tasting and crunchier than cooked ones.  The downside is that they do have to be stored in the fridge and are only good for about three months.  But I can make small batches at a time.  It opens up all kinds of possibilities (pickled peppers, anyone?).  The cost would, of course, be much lower if I grew my own herbs. 

After a semester of constant running around on "necessary" tasks, it felt really good to do something entirely for the sake of tasty, creative fun.  It shows that I don't actually have to slow down to take a break.  I won't know for sure if it worked until December 8th when I crack open the pickles, but I love being able to say I make them.  It has to do with the kind of person I want to be.

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