Today I get to write about something near and dear to my heart, PICKLES! Seriously, I love pickles. My kids love pickles. My husband loves pickles. We are pickle people. We are discerning pickle people. About a year ago, while munching on my favorite refrigerated brand of crunchy deli spears, I read the label. I don’t know what spurred the action because pickles are innocuous, right? I thought that pickles were cucumbers with salt, vinegar, peppercorns, other spices and garlic (or should have been). Boy, I was wrong. My pickles had calcium chloride, sodium benzoate, and polysorbate 80! What are those? Well, calcium chloride is used as a preservative and to add salt flavor. It is an irritant to your body. Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative and also as an artificial colorant. It is some bad stuff; studies have shown that it is quite effective at damaging our precious DNA. Finally, polysorbate 80 was something that I remembered using during my time in the microbiology lab. We used it as a surfactant in some of our QC testing. Food wise it is used to keep food visually appealing by stopping separation as food sits on the shelves waiting for unsuspecting buyers. It has been shown to have negative impacts on our immune system and also cause fertility problems. YUCK! Other ingredients found in commonly purchased pickles that you should look into or avoid all together are: artificial color, “natural” flavors, alum, high fructose corn syrup, and turmeric oleoresin.
It took me awhile but I found a nice German brand of pickles that lived up to our pickle snobbery. They worked for some time but at over $7 a jar I couldn’t justify it anymore. Having a $50/month pickle habit isn’t cool.
Like with so many other things I found to be not so awesome for my family, I decided it was time to make my own dang pickles. Sadly, this “make it myself” approach has become quite time consuming but at least with my beloved pickles the process was less than 30 minutes. The pickles I made were simple, tasty, crunchy (crunch is important), and 5-year old approved. The best part is that they are almost completely organic (I couldn’t find organic dill or coriander but plan to order some for future batches).
Here is the recipe:
cucumbers (I used 6 because like I said, we are pickle people)
3 tbsp white vinegar (use a little more if you like vinegar)
½ to 1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp dried dill (you can use fresh but use more)
peppercorns to taste
coriander to taste (you can leave it out if you are anti-coriander)
2-4 fresh press cloves of garlic (I used 4 because we LOVE garlic)
red pepper flakes to taste (I didn’t add to this batch)
quart glass jars (I use Ball jars because they are made in the U.S.A. and BPA free)
Cut cucumbers into desired shape (i.e. spears, chips, or sandwich slices). Fill mason jars with pickles.
Then put all the ingredients except the water into the jars with the pickles. Please note that the ingredient quantities listed above are "per jar" amounts!
Next, fill the jars all the way to the top with your filtered water and put the lid on tightly.
Invert the jars and leave at room temperature for 12-ish hours.
Flip the jars and leave for another 12-ish hours. After a day your pickles are ready to enjoy. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month but if you are like us then you will be through them sooner than that. Enjoy!