You know those people who are notoriously slow to latch onto certain foods? They say it’s the texture or the flavor? They never liked it, never will? We all know those people. We all are those people. So let me start off this post by addressing them—addressing us—and saying this: the following story is one you can read and take heart. I like pickles.
Yes, I wrote that right. I LIKE PICKLES. Expect all manner of impossibilities from here on out: Up can be down. Left can be right. You can take something you always thought you wouldn’t like and make it in your own kitchen and boom: it’s a world where anything is possible.
I mean, people. Since childhood, I have been the girl who picks pickles off my sandwiches! In my entire life, I’ve never bought a jar at the store!
It’s not that I’ve never tried pickles or even that I hated them when I did, but it’s as simple as this: I wouldn’t choose them. Ever.
Step One: Wanting to like them. So it’s one thing to feel like you should try to like something because someone else does. Or because someone’s offered it to you. Or because it’s on sale at the store. It’s another entirely to feel like you should try to like something because it’s good for you. Did you know naturally fermented pickles are just that?
Different from commercial fermenting (not all pickles are created equal!), natural fermenting is done without vinegar, which slows down the fermenting and enzymatic processes. By letting the foods naturally ferment, you get results that are nutritionally beneficial and that aid digestion and overall health! I’m all for functionality in what I eat, so a few months ago, I started eating pickles when they were offered to me. If there was one on my plate at a restaurant, I’d eat a few bites. If you handed me one, I’d try it. This was all an effort to gradually, consistently break down years of dislike.
These walls breaking down, these gradual changes, were nothing we don’t experience everyday, in all spheres of our life, like when we start to talk to someone at the office more often or when we listen with an open mind to a friend’s idea or the way it feels to do something purposefully new, just to give it a shot. Along the way, things are changing; you’re changing.
Step Two: Making them myself. You can buy naturally fermented pickles in some places, but they’re harder to find, so the simplest solution was to make them myself. At the Wheaton Farmers Market a few weekends ago, I grabbed a container of short, squatty little pickling cucumbers and brought them home. We washed and jarred them with water, sea salt, dill and garlic, closing the lids and leaving them on the counter. My kitchen is cold, so I didn’t look at them again for just over a week.
But when I did: oh, man. It was like I’d never had a pickle before. The garlic! The dill! The crisp crunch! The salty flavor! I ate a whole one right away, then another in the morning. These are not just any pickles: these are THE pickles, the ones that changed the game forever. I’d like to hand you one so you can see.
Homemade Garlic Dill Pickles
The amount of cucumbers you’ll need depends on the size of your jars and the amount of pickles you want to make. I bought a small container of them at the farmers’ market and only needed two mason jars.
Dill (I used dried, but you could use fresh dill or dill seed)
Fill each four-cup jar about a quarter or a third full with water, and add two tablespoons of sea salt, two tablespoons of dill and two to three garlic cloves. Add in cucumbers, as many as will fit comfortably, and then fill the rest of the jar with water, leaving a little room at the top. Cover and set on the counter for 5 to 8 days. Taste to see when they’re done—crispy and flavorful—and then stick the jars in the fridge, which stops the fermentation process.