Celebrating National Pickle Month

What do Cleopatra, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth and Amerigo Vespucci have in common? They would all have been enthusiastic celebrants of July’s National Pickle Month. In fact, they would probably celebrate with relish. (See what I did there?)

Whether you like them in relish, with ice cream or on the side of your sandwich, pickles have been part of the culinary landscape here in the U.S. as long as there has been a culinary landscape in the U.S. As early as 1606, pickles were being produced in the state of Virginia. More than 5 million pounds of pickles are now consumed annually in the U.S. That’s about 9 pounds per person!

It’s easy to find a love for pickles as there are so many different types: vinegar, fermented, fruit, cucumber, beets, bean paste, relishes, kimchi, kraut … the list goes on. The only downside to pickles might be the salt, which is used to inhibit bacteria and spoilage. If you are trying to limit your sodium intake, this would be something to keep in mind, but in moderate portion sizes (one dill pickle spear = around 300 mg sodium) pickles can certainly be a part of your regular meal plan, and they even count as a vegetable! Just choose the dill or lacto-fermented variety over sweet or bread-and-butter style.

Consider making your own for more control over the amount of sodium in the finished product. Whether you go for the standard cucumber, branch out into other vegetables like cauliflower or radishes, or decide to go for the unusual — think grapes or Swiss chard stems — remember: You can pickle that!


Quick Refrigerator Dillys

Recipe developed by Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD

Makes 2 pints

Ingredients
1½ lbs. cucumbers
¾ cup apple cider vinegar or other 4% acidity vinegar of your choice
¾ cup water
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons dried dill (or 2 fresh dill heads)
1 small onion, sliced into rings

Directions

  1. Wash cucumbers and cut off ends. Cut into equal-sized spears.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water, and salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, equally divide garlic, dill and onion between the jars. Pack in the cucumbers as tightly as you can without any breaking.
  4. Pour boiling vinegar solution over cucumbers. Seal, refrigerate and enjoy after 1-2 days.
  5. Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.
Vanessa Oliver
Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness specialist with the University of Kentucky Health and Wellness Program. She is mad for hiking, farmers markets and Sunday cooking.