The Craft of “Pickles”

“Squeamish stomachs cannot eat without pickles” – Benjamin Franklin


As we head into the colder months, there is an item on the shelf that is easy to grab and re-live the warmer months…pickles.  Not necessarily the classic vision of a pickle, the cucumber in its many forms.  Instead the vast array of vegetables that can be utilized all winter long, or even just a simple quick-pickle to enhance a dish at a dinner party.  While summer is the best time to do you preserving, it can truly be done all year, with produce from your local grocery store. While it’s always preferred to use farm fresh produce, in Wisconsin, it’s not always a reality.

Preserving food is a great way to connect us to our roots, our history, to simpler times where the big grocery store wasn’t around every corner.  Canning or pickling is one of the oldest and widely used method of food preservation.  While not 100% verified, some of the earliest for of pickling trace back to Mesopotamia around 2400 BC.  The word itself derives from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine.

Popular in 100’s of different cultures and countries around the world, pickles are a mainstay of dinner tables the globe over.  It’s a strong method to decrease the chances of spoilage by removing air and creating a seal.  Also, for a quick-pickle, a fantastic method to add a vinegar flavor to any dish.  Below is a staple item we quick pickle often at c.1880, a pickled red onion.  I have also added a little tip to really make that item pop.

Pickled Red Onions

2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into half moons

1.5 c red wine vinegar

1 c white sugar

.5 c water

small segment of raw red beet

  • Combine vinegar, sugar, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil
  • pack (don’t smash) cut red onions and beet segment into jar or vessel
  • pour pickling liquid over
  • seal jar

Allow to cool either on countertop or in fridge, the beet enhances the color of the onions to a rich vibrant, deep pink.  Refrigerated pickled onions can be used up to one month.  Feel free to add a couple seeds to embark your own flavor on the onions, coriander, cumin, and garlic clove all make welcome flavor additions.

**Feel free to make in larger batches too, just remember the 3-2-1 rule (3 part vinegar, 2 part sugar, 1 part water) when making your pickling liquid.