Making Pickles the Easy Way

I've been having a love fest in my kitchen with the Lee Brothers thanks to their quick and easy pickle recipes, the affordability of baby dill (my favorite!) and the abundance of produce perfect for pickling. At Easy-Way, pickling cucumbers are only 99 cents a pound.

I've pickled zuccini, yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, okra, and seedless grapes. Up next? Gingered beets. I've wanted to pickle for a number of years, but I've been intimidated by the  "hot water bath" required for traditional recipes. Happily, these recipes don't require a canner or sterilized jars, just cleaning, chopping, and a quick brine mixed together on the stove top.

The only drawback is the jars have to be refrigerated, and the pickles only last a few weeks. That hasn't  been a problem for me, because the pickles are such a delicious blend of sweet, sour, and garlic they don't last long. I've been eating them when I'm famished instead of my high-calorie go-to snacks, and I've lost two pounds.

Now that I'm feeling confident, I'll be moving on to "hot cooked" pickles, thanks to this canner I found at Fred's for $16. A comparable model at Target was more than $30 because it included a lot of attachments that you really don't need.

Here is one of my favorite recipes adapted from the Lee Brother's latest cookbook called Simple, Fresh, Southern. I put both zucchini and yellow squash in the same jar to accentuate the colors. and prefer the taste of white wine vinegar.  Remember that almost any vegetable can be pickled, so experiment with the mix. And if you find a combination you like, let me know.

Zucchini and Onion Pickles

1 pound zucchini or yellow squash sliced on the bias about one-eighth of an inch thick
1 large white onion thinly sliced
1 cup distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar
4 large garlic gloves crushed and chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Layer the squash and onions in a quart canning jar with a lid. Pour 1 cup on water and vinegar in a saucepan, set it on medium-high heat, and add garlic, salt, sugar, and peppercorns. When it starts to simmer, pour the brine over the vegetables. Cover loosely and let cool to room temperature. Seal the jar and chill for at least an hour before serving. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

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