Family Fun Activity: Let’s Make Pickles!
To top off your Memorial Day cookout, we’ve got a cold pickle recipe that’s fun for the whole family.
What are pickles?
Pickles are fruits and vegetables that have undergone a process called pickling, during which foods are stored in brine or vinegar solutions to keep them fresh. Today, many people eat pickles for their flavor, but, in the days before refrigeration, food preservation methods, like pickling, were necessary to make sure that harvested foods lasted through the long winter.
In the colonial era, people preserved all kinds of foods – meats, fruits, vegetables, even eggs. Fruits and vegetables were dried by sun, air, or fire, turned into jellies and jams, and pickled. Meats were smoked over a low flame for days or rubbed with, and stored in, salt to draw out moisture. Colonists potted meat, packing it tightly into a jar with butter, lard, or tallow (rendered beef fat), they also pickled it, and pickled eggs! You can still find many of these types of meat preservation in grocery stores today. Jerky is smoked, corned beef is salted, tuna is potted, and herring is pickled. What other kinds of meat can you think of that have been preserved?
Recently, we have seen a lot in the news about a fear of food shortages. Some people are starting gardens and building chicken coops to be more self-sufficient, others are trying to limit the number of trips they make to the store and are buying more preserved foods – dried beans, canned vegetables, and frozen fruits. While there have been many food inventions since the colonial era, from pasteurized milk to molecular gastronomy, the need for reliably preserved food is still very much a part of our lives today.
Recipe: Cold Pickles
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 large cucumber, sliced into rounds or spears
Variety of spices and sugar to taste, such as mustard seed, dill, allspice, clove, black peppercorns, etc
2 pint-sized mason jars
1 long handle spoon
Add water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a pitcher to make a brine solution. Stir with spoon to combine.
Add to each jar: spices to taste, 1/2 sliced cucumber, brine solution
Place the lids on the jars and shake to combine
Refrigerate for at least 2 days before eating
Pickles will last 1 week while in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Experiment with different ingredients, like carrots or peppers for other fun pickle varieties!
Print a colorful flyer with our recipe (PDF) below:
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