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When Life Gives You Cucumbers, Learn How to Pickle

Leigh
Posted by Leigh on Sep 30, 2015

When life gives you cucumbers, make pickles. That’s how the saying goes, right?

Pickles_-_Leigh_Hamp

In the depths of Chicago winter this past February, I was in a cooking rut. Wholly uninspired by the produce at my local supermarket, I had fallen back on my all-to-regular staples and needed to change things up in the kitchen. After some research, I decided to sign up for a local CSA (community support agriculture), with Nichols Farm starting in early June. The community supported agriculture system allows you to sign up for a “share” of produce with a local farm. When harvesting begins, you receive periodic shares of what they are harvesting at the moment.

Come June, the bounty of local produce arrived. I spent the summer inspired by produce I had never previously thought to buy. Purple carrots, sugar beets, okra, tomatillos, “kalettes” (a cross between kale and brussel sprouts!), the list is wonderfully long.

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As much the CSA inspired me to try new ingredients, it also challenged me to get creative with large amounts of vegetables that were previously relegated to the “boring” category.

In late August, as I prepared to move and start graduate school, I received 5+ lbs of cucumbers from my CSA. A bit overwhelmed by all of the moving pieces in my life, combined with the pressure to consume all of those fresh cucumbers, I consulted my favorite food blog Smitten Kitchen to source some cucumber inspiration. Smitten Kitchen’s author, Deb Perelman, has a section of the website that classifies recipe by the relevant fruits/veggies included in the dish. I quickly went straight to the cucumbers section and at the top of the cucumber-laden list was my answer, pickles!

I have always been a pickle lover but never thought to make them on my own. While the following statement may be obvious to seasoned cooks, I am here to report that learning how to pickle is e-a-s-y. In less than an hour, I had a large quart sized jar filled with cooling pickles. The next morning, I excitedly took my first bite and I was hooked.

If you ever find yourself in a proverbial pickle and are laden with lots of one type of vegetable, I highly recommend making pickles. If bread and butter pickles are not your style, try the classic dill or even try changing up the vegetable – beets, carrots, turnips, the options are endless!

Through my CSA share, I fell in love with cooking with the seasons through produce. As my CSA share changes from beautiful late summer tomatoes and corn to autumnal squash and root vegetables, I am excited for all of the new adventures that lay ahead in my kitchen. If you want to learn about how to cook with seasonal ingredients, join us at The Chopping Block for the “Fall Vegetable Harvest” cooking class at Lincoln Square on Sunday, October 11 & Wednesday, October 28!

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Topics: seasonal, pickles, vegetables, produce

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