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  • Writer's pictureColleen Turner

Not to brag, but I'm a pretty big "dill."

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Ah, the art of pickling...beautiful and a must.


I love pickles...and not just the cucumber kind (though those are at the top of my hit list). Dill, bread & butter, spicy, sweet...you name it, I'm down with it.


I pickle all kinds of things, including green beans and carrots, but my go-to favorites are onions and cucumbers. Specifically, bright pink red onions and sriracha spiced cukes. I am an especially big fan of the quick, refrigerator pickle process, making these two beauties easy, delicious and always on hand to brighten a salad, sandwich or charcuterie board.


Almost as much as I love brined treats, I love mason jars. I buy in bulk, give away to friends (filled, natch) and use as storage in the fridge, pantry, office and garage. Really, is there anything they can't do?

A sampling of the Ball jars I use on a regular basis. The top image represent's storage and pickling vessels, while the bottom jars are perfect for my Spicy Orange Marmalade, aka Hot Jams by Cooleen (find recipe here). Courtesy images: Nessa Jay.


Another favorite storage choice for me is the classic canning jar, featuring a simple, reusable lid. It is also known as the Hermes Jar or the Swing Top Bale Jar. It features a clamp mechanism for the seal (replaceable) that's easy to close, open and reuse. Best of all, the square glass bottom is extra-durable and super-thick.


My vibrant pink pickled red onions will pump up the flavor of any salad, sandwich, taco or fajita. I even mince them up and add to vinaigrettes! Shown here in a Hermes jar.


Foolishly paired with ice cream in some misguided concept of pregnancy-related cravings, that is one mash up I would never consider. Yet, pickled or brined items are a staple in many areas of cooking. Think, for example, the importance of brining poultry prior to cooking to ensure a moist and tender end product? Or, how important pickling juices are to the humble dirty martini? (Editor's note: I prefer my martinis "stained" or "spotted"...I find a much lighter pour of olive brine makes for a finer beverage, overall.)


Even the word pickle can be both a noun (aka, the cucumbers that have been preserved in the salt and sugar-based elixir) and as an adjective (pickled onions). The word onion alone does not necessarily imply that it has been pickled (er, unless you are in my kitchen).


The history of pickles is impressive, too, including Cleopatra's insistence that they mightily contributed to her storied beauty and the many Roman leaders (think Caesar and Napoleon, among others) who believed consumption built muscle.


Bottom line, pickles are so much more than a sandwich sidekick. Suffice it to say, these recipes for two different styles of brine are "dill-icious!"


Pickled Red Onions


1 large or 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup (240 ml) apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons to 8 tablespoons sugar (separated)

1 tablespoon kosher salt


--------------------------DIRECTIONS------------------------------------------


Add sliced onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over onions so that they are covered. Count to 5 (not 6 and 7 is right out!), then drain. Add onions to a glass jar (the Hermes swing lid style is perfect for this).


In a small saucepan over medium heat toast cinnamon, cloves and red pepper flakes until fragrant. About 3-5 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of sugar and salt.


Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar and salt dissolve, 1-2 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar as needed.


Pour brine over onions. Allow to stand at room temperature until cooled. Refrigerate 3-4 weeks, if they last that long.

Sriracha Refrigerator Pickles 2 English Hothouse cucumbers (approximately 2 pounds) ---------------------------BRINE------------------------------------------------------------ 1 1/4 cups unseasoned rice wine vinegar 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons sugar 2 cups water 2 tablespoons Sriracha --------------------------JAR SEASONINGS------------------------------------- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns per jar 1 teaspoons dill seed per jar 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic per jar Dash crushed red pepper flakes per jar (or more if you like it really spicy) --------------------------DIRECTIONS--------------------------------------------------- Prepare the brine by mixing to together the rice wine vinegar, kosher salt and sugar. Mix with a spoon until sugar has dissolved. Add 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons Sriracha. Stir and set aside. Wash and slice your cucumbers into chips or spears, as desired. Add dry seasonings into clean preferred-sized mason jars. Depending on size, this could be one large jar or 3-5 pint-sized jars. Pack the jars with the sliced cucumbers and then add brine to the top of the jar, leaving about 1/2" of headspace. Tightly secure lids and place jars in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours or more before eating. Pickles will stay fresh, crispy and delicious for several weeks in the refrigerator.









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