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It’s No Big Dill – How to Make Pickles at Home

October 17, 2017
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People are Passionate About Pickles

I used to hate pickles when I a was a kid. Actually, it is one of my most enduring food-dislikes. I only recently let pickles stay on my salami sandwiches. Vegetable pickles were my gateway into their salty, tangy, crunchy, sometimes sweet world. (Likely, they were also dangling into my Bloody Mary which I’m sure helped change my mind). It turns out, what I don’t like are the mass produced, cloying jarred pickles of the early 90s (I realize some of you, who used to torture me with your pickle juice fingers, love exactly that taste I’m dissing. Forgive me, I’m a mostly food snob.)

How To Make Pickles

Now, I love all pickled vegetables and well made cucumber pickles.

Pickles were really hip in the farm to table, everything artisan food revolutions a few years ago. I once hired a chef who thought he was the world’s gift for pickling strawberries (he didn’t invent that). Pickles are just regular cool again but they have come through with an upgrade. You can buy great jarred pickles from regular grocery stores, online and expect them any decent sandwich shop (I think anyway. I live in San Francisco, I should fess up that my “regular” food is pretty high quality).

Why spend upwards of $7 per jar though?

You can definitely make your own pickles! Especially vegetable pickles since we’re talking food waste here. This is a well established anti-food waste method. Pickles are almost as old as recorded history. Back in the day people would have pickled to preserve the fresh cucumbers which, as we all know, go bad really quickly. Its fascinating that with all of our technology and advancements for an easy life, food still wins. I hope food always wins. I don’t want to see some modified slime-proof cucumber or eternally enduring cauliflower. I don’t want to take freshness out of fresh food – lets instead make pickles!



What are we pickling? Check your fridge! Consider whether you want combination pickles (ie. the classic Italian Giardinara with cauliflower, carrots, peppers, garlic, herbs and olive oil) or single vegetable pickles which are easy to mix and match later.

Advanced Pickling Move – try fruit! Peaches, pears, berries, all make interesting condiments


Get your jars ready. These can be the ever popular mason jars or a simple tupperware container with an airtight lid. We’re making refrigerator pickles so they’ll never be shelf stable so tupperware works just fine. Bonus waste-free points for using a clean, recycled pasta sauce jar or an old store-bought pickle jar!




Just as I was thinking about pickling and its history, I got to eat at Mamaleh’s in Cambridge. Their “modern era jewish delicatessen” menu was extensive and everything was so delicious! I can’t stop thinking of these awesome pickles (below). They were $8 for a quart – its probably worth it if you live nearby, but if not, I think you can pickled whatever is looking old in your produce drawer right now!

Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.