Preserving Summer

A delicious recipe to extend the fruits of your summer labor

Story and Photography by Kerry Guice

Homemade pickle recipe

We are lucky enough to have a garden at my kids’ school, driven by our PTA and volunteers, and because a lot of the harvesting is done over the summer when the kids aren’t there, we've had to be creative with how we can still involve the kids in the fruits of their labor! We started a farmers market at the beginning of the school year, and because our cucumbers do so well, I decided to create a recipe for pickles, since we could also use the garlic, onion and dill we’d grown. 

At the market, we had our jars of pickles, basil pesto, pickled okra and whatever fresh veggies or flowers we could offer. Out of everything, though, the “Forest Park Pickles” were a major hit. When I started getting emails and texts from people trying to reserve their jars for the following week, I felt so happy to have landed on a recipe that might stick around the farmers market long after my own kids have completed elementary school. For me, every garlicky, tangy, crunchy bite is a reminder of summer. 

For this recipe, I use a mandolin so I can slice the cucumbers and onion almost paper thin, and I don't cook anything. The trick to bright green, crunchy pickles is to keep everything fresh! They have to be stored in the refrigerator this way (no cupboard), but it’s absolutely worth it, and saves a lot of time and (for a lot of people) intimidation surrounding the whole canning process. 

After slicing the cucumbers and onions, I soak them in the salt in a large bowl for at least 15 minutes before adding the vinegar so the salt can pull the water out of the cucumber. This way I don’t have to add any additional water to the brine, and what a punch of flavor that creates! 

I love that making pickles not only preserves the cucumbers, but it preserves memories surrounding hot Arkansas summers filled with an abundance of fresh veggies and evenings watering the garden while the kids steal turns with the hose to cool each other off. Those things are worth preserving! 

DIY pickles

Makes 4 pint jars

8 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (I use the thinnest setting on a mandolin.) 
2 tablespoons sea salt (Not table salt or fine sea salt! It will be too salty.) 
½ cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped
1½ cups white vinegar
1 cup sliced onion 

Per Pint Jar: 
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
3 peppercorns
Small pinch (5-7) coriander seeds
Small pinch (7-10) mustard seeds 

Add the cucumbers, onions, salt, sugar and dill to the bowl. Combine well and let sit 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Add garlic and seeds to the bottom of each jar, then fill with cucumbers using tongs. Ladle pickling liquid over the cucumbers, then wipe the jar and secure the lid tightly. Ready to eat in 3-5 days. 

Keep refrigerated, they are not shelf-stable!