Even the laziest cooks can do better than store-bought pickles. With just a little prep work, you can make your own, adding flavor and crunch to salads, sandwiches, and more, while netting health benefits from the produce and the juice. Another bonus: you probably have most of the ingredients already.
Pickle brine, typically made with salt, sugar, and vinegar, brims with electrolytes that can help combat dehydration and cramping, explains Maddie Alm, a registered dietician, runner, and owner of Fueling Forward, a sports nutrition business in Boulder, Colorado. (Alm says you can take a few sips as soon as you feel a cramp coming on, or combine it with some water in place of a sports drink.) And while certain methods of cooking reduce or eliminate water-soluble vitamins in veggies, cold-pickling leaves those intact.
Try your hand at pickling with this quick recipe adapted from the blog of Jennifer Segal, author of the cookbook Once Upon a Chef. You can substitute other vegetables for the classic cukes—cauliflower, peppers, beets, asparagus, and jalapeños work great—and tweak the spices and dill until you land on a ratio you love.
- 1¼ cups distilled white vinegar (5 percent acidity)
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 cups cold water
- 1¾ to 2 pounds cucumbers, cut into spears
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 16 dill sprigs
Combine vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat and whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Transfer liquid into a bowl and whisk in cold water. Refrigerate. Pack cucumbers into two quart jars and divide the rest of the ingredients evenly between the jars. Completely cover the cucumbers with chilled brine, adding a bit of cold water if you come up short. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Makes two quarts.