Last summer, on a whim, I bought a bushel of mini cucumbers at a local farmers’ market. I reasoned that my husband, who loves cukes, would eat them, which he did – for about a week. Then I found myself with two thirds of a bushel of lovely little glossy green cucumbers that I could not bear to see go to waste.
Tired of hearing me moan about what to do with this bounty, my husband uttered a phrase that changed my whole summer.
“Why don’t you make pickles?”
So, I searched the internet and found an abundance of recipes for bread and butter pickles, brined pickles, garlic pickles, refrigerator pickles, dill pickles, basil pickles, even kool-aid pickles. While the recipes seemed like something I could manage, I found the lack of good directions a big problem. So, I headed to the library and spent a lovely afternoon browsing through cookbooks on pickles and canning, but came away feeling very intimidated. I eventually tried the simplest refrigerator pickle recipe I could find and they turned out okay. Nothing special, but certainly edible.
The Pickled Pantry has changed all that. This is the book I wanted last summer. Chesman writes in an engaging conversational style, and isn’t afraid to talk about her successes and failures in pickle making. She explains why it’s important to take certain steps, but also offers alternatives for various ingredients or processes. Recipes for a variety of pickles, from cucumber to cauliflower, are presented in clear language that can be understood by a novice. As an added bonus, Chesman also profiles famous pickle makers (who would have thought there were so many!?) in appealing inserts throughout the book.
The Pickled Pantry is one of those rare cookbooks that you can read straight through like a novel. I sincerely hope Chesman has other culinary expertise and will be writing more books like this one!