The true history of the pickle is somewhat of a mystery. Although some believe it dates back to India 4030 years ago. The pickle has been mentioned in the Bible by Jesus and in the Old Testament books Numbers and Isaiah. Napoleon valued its health benefits for his army.

George Washington had a collection of 476 different kinds of pickles. In 850 BC Aristotle praised the healing benefits of the pickle, and Thomas Jefferson wrote: "On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout, like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar." So, what is all the fuss over a pickled cucumber you ask? Who knows?I do know that even today the popular pickle is everywhere. The crunchy tangy pickle is eaten out of jars, on our burgers, and served with our sandwiches. It is sliced, speared, whole, diced for relish, spicy, sour, and sweet.

We just love the amazing, multi-talented pickle! The health benefits of the pickle are incredible: Raw, lacto-fermented vegetables (pickles) have good bacteria that inhibit the growth of harmful microbes in the intestines. They have a higher concentration of vitamin C. They help you absorb iron better. Research shows that vinegar can help with weigh loss. PICKLE FACTS: * Americans consume 26-billion pickles a year. That's about nine pounds of pickles per person.

* More than half the cucumbers grown in the U.S. are made into pickles. * Amerigo Vespucci, for whom America is named, was a pickle merchant before becoming an explorer. * Pickling has been used to preserve food for almost 5,000 years. * The pickle is both a fruit and a vegetable No matter how you feel about pickles?they aren't going anywhere.

So, grab a dill, sit down, and get crunching. Dill Pickles: 4 dozen fresh, crisp, pickling cucumbers ? DO NOT use the commercial, waxed kind! Fresh dill, to taste (approx. 1- bundle) 1 qt. Apple cider vinegar 8 c water 1 c salt 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled, and crushed Several Jars Wash cukes and cover with cold water. Refrigerate overnight. Pack cukes into jars, tightly.

Stuff equal amounts of dill into each jar. Meanwhile, bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Boil for 2 min. Evenly divide whole garlic cloves into jars. Pour hot brine into the jars. Seal.

Makes 12 pints. After processing and cooling, jars should be stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor. Bread-and-Butter Pickles: 6 lbs of 4- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers 8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 3 pounds) l/2 cup canning or pickling salt 4 cups vinegar (5 percent) 4-l/2 cups sugar 2 tbsp mustard seed l-l/2 tbsp celery seed l tbsp ground tumeric Wash cucumbers. Cut l/l6-inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 3/l6-inch slices. Combine cucumbers and onions in a large bowl.

Add salt. Cover with 2 inches crushed or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, adding more ice as needed. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Boil l0 minutes.

Drain and add cucumbers and onions and slowly reheat to boiling. Fill jars with slices and cooking syrup, leaving l/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process pints or quarts l0 minutes in a boiling water canner. After processing and cooling, jars should be stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor.

Quick Sweet Pickles 8 lbs of 3- to 4-inch pickling cucumbers (may be canned as strips or slices) l/3 cup canning or pickling salt 4-l/2 cups sugar 3-l/2 cups vinegar (5 percent) 2 tsp celery seed l tbsp whole allspice 2 tbsp mustard seed Yield: About 7 to 9 pints Wash cucumbers. Cut l/l6-inch off blossom end and discard, but leave l/4 inch of stem attached. Slice or cut in strips, if desired. Place in bowl and sprinkle with l/3 cup salt. Cover with 2 inches of crushed or cubed ice.

Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Add more ice as needed. Drain well. Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, allspice, and mustard seed in 6-quart kettle. Heat to boiling.

Hot Pack: Add cucumbers and heat slowly until vinegar solution returns to boil. Stir occasionally to make sure mixture heats evenly. Fill sterile jars, leaving l/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. Raw Pack: Fill jars, leaving l/2-inch headspace.

Add hot pickling syrup, leaving l/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process pints l0 minutes and quarts l5 minutes in boiling water canner or use the low temperature pasteurization treatment. After processing and cooling, jars should be stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor. .

By: Lara Velez


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