Refrigerator Pickles

I don’t advocate small-batch canning, but I am a fan of quick and easy pickling that fills your refrigerator one jar at a time. If your only experience with pickling is opening a store-bought jar, then refrigerator vinegar pickles will convert you to homemade. Even if you grew up in a household that put up shelves of pickled vegetables every summer, like I did, refrigerator pickles have surprising benefits.

The disadvantage of refrigerator pickles—that they aren’t sealed in heated jars and thus shelf stable—can be an advantage in freshness and crispness. Small-space gardeners or CSA members can put up a jar at a time as produce ripens. Even expansive gardeners can use fridge pickles to test new flavor combinations. Cucumbers are ideal refrigerator pickles, because they soften so quickly when heated. You should still only use pickling cucumbers; the thick-skinned slicing cucumbers you find in grocery stores and even lemon cucumbers are really only useful as fresh pickles. After years of pasteurizing summer squash, I’ve switched from the canner to the fridge to keep the pickles’ crunch.
Learn to make Cucumber Refrigerator Pickles and Cumin-Spiced Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles

Pick a Pickle

Almost every vegetable garden explodes in July. My first July harvest included the last of the spring greens and asparagus, midcycle broccoli and garlic scapes, and the first snap peas, carrots, beets, and bulb onions. The harvest will go straight into our mouths, but as the yields grow jugs of vinegar and a box of salt will be front and center, ready for pickling.

All of my recently harvested vegetables can be pickled, along with snap beans, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garlic, cabbage, and even fruit. That’s the beauty of pickling: it lets you preserve any low-acid vegetable safely. And like many of my favorite processing techniques, it’s endlessly variable. Various pickling techniques let you preserve everything from a single cucumber to a box of cukes. You can flavor them to fit any meal: American dills or bread-and-butters with burgers, Japanese kyuri asazuke with sushi, Indian kheer uragai with curry—and that’s just a few variations on cucumber pickles.
Read more about quick and easy pickling

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (aka the Garden)

It’s early May, and the growing season looks so promising: You’ve weeded beds, added compost, and attached hoses. You’re buying starts and scattering seeds. Your garden looks neat and orderly, the rain’s handling your watering, and after winter’s gray you’re thrilled by the first daff blossoms and garlic shoots.

Fast-forward to late July, and it’s a different story. Your garden has exploded, or perhaps imploded. Weeds threaten to outpace desirables in every corner. Early plants have gone bitterly to seed, and late ones are suffering heatstroke. One day your basil gets a sunburn; to compensate, you overwater and drown your tomatoes. You’ve got 6 activities crammed into every weekend, and your planned garden-fresh dinner is supplanted by takeout. You look out the window, afraid to go deeper into your neglected garden. Why did you do this again? Here’s my secret to enjoying this personal jungle.
Read more about my secret to enjoying this personal jungle

Cheese and Yogurt

Queso blanco, panir, whole-milk ricotta, farm cheese, lemon cheese—they’re the same cheese by different names. Even where recipes for them may vary, they share two features: all form curd through the addition of an acid, and all coagulate because they are heated above 176°F, the temperature at which the milk protein casein “sets.” This makes Lemon Cheese, my preferred name because I like to use lemon juice to form the curd, surprisingly simple and easy to make. This recipe is also a great first cheese because you need few special tools or ingredients: just cheesecloth, a thermometer, and ideally cheese salt. You can make about 2 pounds of cheese from a gallon of milk, but I prefer to use some of that gallon to make yogurt.
Learn to make Lemon Cheese and Fresh Yogurt