Garden Pickles; Summer in a Jar

Many pickles capture the bounty of summer but this year, my pickles captured the essence of community as well.



I haven’t made pickles in quite a while but I was inspired by the delicious “half-fermented” pickles I sampled at Saul’s Deli, in Berkeley, earlier this year, and decided to make easy refrigerator pickles that don’t need the fuss of proper fermenting or canning.


pickle tasting at Saul's

Pickled Inspiration at Sauls Deli in Berkeley; Kosher, Half-Fermented, and Full Fermented.


This is a really easy, entry-level way to make quick pickles. It’s not so much a proper recipe as a method, because the ingredients and spices can be adjusted for your households personal tastes and the availability of your produce.

Pickling works with most fleshy vegetables and fruits and this year I did green beans, radish pods, plums and squash. Use a reliable source for proper pickling that needs to be shelf- stable or unrefrigerated. But the beauty of quick –pickles is fast gratification and the peace of mind of refrigeration to keep them food-safe and crunchy cold.


summer pickles assorted

Refrigerator Pickle trials; whole plums, green beans and squash.


My favorite pickle combination this summer used the squash I got from my friend and design colleague Natalain. She had extra white scalloped squash because they turned out to be slow-sellers at the local market that she supplies with her certified organic produce. The white variety of summer squash are so lovely, I leave them on display in a bowl for as long as I can.


summer pattypan squash

Scallop squash, also known as pattypans, can be found in many color combinations in addition to a beautiful bone white.


I also had a generous supply of delicious fresh garlic from my friend and former boss, Renee Shepherd, who had shared some from her test garden when she came over for dinner in July. Her company, Renee’s Garden Seeds, was trialing varieties to add to her well-loved line of heirloom seed that now includes garlic starts so gardeners can grow their own delicious bulbs in one season.


Renee's garlic

Fresh homegrown garlic cant be beat for flavor.


To make the pickles I used the squash and garlic and a pre-made pickling spice mix plus extra coriander, that I toasted before adding. The final ingredient was out of my own garden, with the addition of un-ripe nasturtium seed pods for a strong bite. I’ve been growing a lovely peach-colored nasturtium at the base of my amber carpet rose this season. Once they are pickled, nasturtium pods are usually described as having a caper-like flavor.


nasturtium pods ready

Nasturtium seed pods washed and ready for pickling.


The results were delicious, the squash stayed firm and white, which somehow made the blast of garlic seem entirely appropriate. The nasturtium pods added just the right bit of zing and interest. The beauty of the mix reminds me of my friends and fellow-gardeners and the main problem I can see is that the pickles are going to be eaten before I even have a chance to miss the end of summer.


summer squash pickles with nasturtium pods

Nasturtium pods add the perfect compliment to garlicky summer squash pickles.

Click here for more ideas and recipes for scallop squash

Click here to buy Renee’s Garden garlic and shallots – it’s the perfect time to plant in mild climates

Also check out Renee’s Garden fancy nasturtiums. I particularly like Creamsicle.

————–   Recipe  ————

—–  Quick Pickled Summer Squash with Garlic and Nasturtiums ———-

apprx 1-2 summer squash, depending on size

garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped, aprx 2 per squash

1 Tablespoon green nasturtium seed pods, rinsed and drained

1 Tablespoon pickling spice mix

1 tsp additional coriander, heat gently in dry pan until lightly toasted

2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups white wine vinegar

1 cup water

Wash the squash well, cut into chunks (sized as desired). Pack the squash, garlic, nasturtium pods, coriander and pickling spice into a clean glass jar. Combine the salt, sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes then carefully pour over the squash into the jar. The liquid should completely cover the contents of the jar. Let cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate for at least a day. Lasts for 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator.  — great on sandwiches or as an accompaniment to full-flavored cheese —



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Categories: Things to Eat


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