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Warts and All—
A Penchant for Pickles

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by Lynn Kerrigan

 

Many historic figures, including Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, liked pickles. What's not to like? They come in a tremendous variety of flavors—sweet, sour, spicy and garlicky. They're crunchy. They add texture and spice to potato salad, sandwiches and a host of other dishes. And, they're cute. Today, more than fifty different types of pickles are available on grocer's shelves; dill leading the pickle pack in popularity. Plus, there's an ever growing collection of different cuts like spears, slices, slabs, and dices to provide new serving options and texture possibilities. But what is the perfect pickle? According to Pickle Packers International, Inc., the trade and research association founded in 1893, the perfect pickle should exhibit seven warts per square inch for American tastes. However, Europeans prefer wartless pickles.

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5 Million Pounds a Day:

The American palate is particularly fond of pickles. They consume about nine pounds per year or 106 pickles per citizen, according to Pickle Packers, Intl.

Pickles in history:

Pickles date back forty-five hundred years to Mesopotamia where it is believed cucumbers were first preserved. Cleopatra, a devoted pickle fan, believed they enhanced her beauty. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were pickle fans. America's namesake, Amerigo Vespucci, hawked pickles in Seville to seafaring ship captains to help fight the sickness known as scurvy. Julius Caesar and Napoleon rationed pickles to their soldiers on their various military campaigns as did the U.S. government earmarking 40% of pickle production during World War II for the army, navy and marines.

Where Do Pickles Come From?
Pickles begin life as cucumber seeds. One pound equals about 17,000 seeds. Take a pound of seed, add water, fertilizer, sun, and an acre of soil, and you'll harvest several hundred bushels of cucumbers. The seeds are a special pedigreed strain developed to produce straight, thin skinned, pickling cucumbers—not the large size cucumbers found on the produce shelves of your grocery store. Research, spearheaded by seed companies and universities, continues to breed improved pickling cucumbers.  
Pickle Tidbits
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Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Mildly sweet; stay crunchy up to about 3 weeks.

9 pickling cucumbers or 3 large cucumbers (do not peel)
1 medium-sized green pepper (seeds removed)
1 medium-sized onion
1 tablespoon table salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar

Wash vegetables. Slice cucumbers into spears, slices, pickle chips--anyway you like. Chop pepper and onion and place along with sliced cucumbers into a 1-1/2 quart size jar or bowl. Add salt and celery seed. Stir gently and let stand one hour. Combine sugar and vinegar in separate bowl stirring to dissolve. Pour over vegetables and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate. Pickles are ready to eat in one day. Store covered in refrigerator.

Yield: 5 cups

 
Famous Pickle Lovers
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Pickles Web Site

Mt. Olive Pickles
www.mtolivepickles.com

 
This month's free recipe offers:

Radish Recipes to Rave About
To expand your imagination about those cherry-red morsels, the Radish Council offers a recipe leaflet full of new ways to use fresh radishes. "Turkey Pita Pockets with Radish Confetti" and "Crunchy Radish-Olive Nachos" are just two of the exciting ideas in this collection. For a free copy, send a self-addressed, stamped, business sized envelope (#10) to: Radish Council, 49 East 21st St., 8th FL., New York, NY 10010.

Family Fun with Fresh Tomatoes
To encourage aspiring junior chefs in your family, the Florida Tomato Committee created a new recipe leaflet: "Family Fun with Fresh Tomatoes." Your children will find super fun, easy recipes like "Fresh Tomato Confetti Pizza" and "Awesome Chunky Tomato Soup," along with tips on preparing tomato garnishes like Tomato Butterflies and Tomato Pinwheels. Each recipe gives step-by-step directions and also lists necessary utensils so your young ones, along with help from a grown-up, can start cooking! For a free copy of the leaflet, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Florida Tomato Committee, Dept. BT, PO Box 140635, Orlando, FL 32814.

 

Text Copyright 1996 Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.

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