In June, among the tiny pots filled with herbs and flowers and jalapeños, I planted cucumber seeds on my fire escape. The fantasy was that by the end of the summer I would harvest and jar my own pickles, old-timey, back-to-the-land domestic style. Cucumber turned out to be a surprising low-maintenance and resilient plant. It sprouted within days and grew quickly into large, furry-prickly leaves and delicate yellow blossoms. While most of my herbs and flowers wilted, my cucumber pot withstood intense heat, squirrel attacks and even a water-less, neglectful week while I was away. Needless to say, I've developed a deep affection for this plant.
About three weeks ago I had my first, thrilling little harvest. I immediately heated up some white vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar and a tablespoon of salt and poured the mixture over a jar packed with the julienned cuke slivers, a few sprigs of dill, a half teaspoon of cumin, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and two garlic cloves. We ate the pickles this weekend. They turned out to be crisp and flavorful and a little spicy and taste like "real" fancy pickles—seriously one of the most satisfying culinary projects I've ever undertaken.
Everyone should pickle.