By Deborah Eisenhut
Pickles are reported to have been around since 2030 BC, originating from India. Cleopatra is said to have given the credit for her beauty to her hardy diet of pickles. Through the Dark Ages into the 1600’s, cucumber pickles gained popularity, but it wasn’t until the early 1800’s that pickles were processed safely in a “water bath” method. In the late 1800’s, Heinz, a new company touted its “57 Varieties” of pickles and jarred foods at the Chicago World’s Fair. During WW 2, 40% of US pickle production was rationed to our soldiers. The “Pickle Fan Club” includes Aristotle, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson and evidently many others, as Americans consume over 6 million pounds of pickles annually. Try these simple, delicious recipes for an easy way to preserve summer’s bounty:
Fruit Pickle Brine
This is ideal brine for summer fruit like melon, berries and peaches. Allow the fruit 8-12 hours in the brine for the best flavor.
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbls. Kosher salt
Bring all ingredients and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and cool completely, stirring occasionally.
Place 1lb fresh strawberries and 2 fresh rosemary sprigs in a 24 ounce jar with a tight fitting lid. Pour Fruit Pickle Brine over strawberries; seal and chill up to 12 hours. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Cut 1 lb honey dew melon into chunks; place melon and 2 fresh thyme sprigs in a 24 ounce jar with tight fitting lid. Pour Fruit Pickle Brine over melon; seal and chill for up to 12 hours. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Place about 1 lb fresh peaches slices and 2 fresh mint sprigs in a 24 ounce jar with tight fitting lid. Pour Fruit Pickle Brine over peaches; seal and chill up to 12 hours. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Easy Summer Icebox Pickles
2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (1/4 inch thick)
½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
½ cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon each: celery seed, mustard seed and non-iodized salt.
Place cucumber and onion slices in glass bowl and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a boil on high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers and onions, cool slightly and cover. Refrigerate pickles for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in a tightly covered container in refrigerator for up to 2 months.