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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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My Year in Pickles

From left to right: cranberries, seckle pears, green tomato slices, garlic scapes, carrots, asparagus, dilly beans, garlic, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes. (Maggie Bullock)
From left to right: cranberries, seckle pears, green tomato slices, garlic scapes, carrots, asparagus, dilly beans, garlic, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes. (Maggie Bullock)

I did a lot of canning this year, more than I ever have before, actually. I began looking at preserving food as a craft more than a chore (which it is occasionally—let’s be honest). Part of my drive to preserve has been to buy, eat, and cook with local produce as much as possible—the only way to eat local tomatoes in the winter is to can them in the summer. Canning also satisfied the project-completer in me: in a few hours, a box of fruit or vegetables can become jars full of delicious. 

Before this summer, the only pickle I had made traditional dill cucumber pickles, using the recipe my grandmother has made since her ninth grade home ec class in 1936. It is tried and true. Reading and researching preserving this year I decided to expand the pickle shelf in my canning pantry. There is so much variety in tested pickle recipes and pickles take very little time to put together (not nearly the stirring that jam requires), that I expanded—quite a bit, actually.

My year of pickles has added flavor to meals that I didn’t know was missing. It has added tang to sandwiches, zip and crunch to salads, garnish to cocktails, and variety to appetizer trays. I’m glad I finally decided to pickle something other than cucumbers.

Following is a breakdown of my year in pickles with a few notes (following the photo above, left to right):

Cranberries—I made these the day before Thanksgiving, and I’m glad I did. They are sweet and flavored with cinnamon. Perfect on a turkey sandwich and in a simple salad with pear and feta. I will be making them again this year.

Spiced Seckle Pears—I was a little disappointed in these. The flavor is great, but the pears became very soft. We’ve mostly used them as a fun cocktail garnish. If I make them again, I’ll leave the pears whole.

Green Tomatoes—With an abundance of green tomatoes on the vine at the end of the season, I pickled rather than compost (green tomatoes aren’t my favorite fresh). As a dill pickle, they’re quite good. Not crisp like a cucumber, but tasty. Great for burgers!

Garlic Scapes—Best in salad and stir-fry, I think. The garlic scape is lightly garlicky (think garlic flavored green onions). I love the way they look all curled in the jar. 

Carrots—I only have this one jar, and so haven’t tasted them yet, but when I picked the carrot harvest this year, there were a couple of rows that I had not thinned well. These tiny carrots were just enough to fill one jar, and they’ll be perfect on a crudités tray.

Asparagus—One of my personal favorites. I like these chopped in salads, and wrapped in a piece of deli ham that has been spread with a light smear of cream cheese: a favorite finger food in our house now. Asparagus retains significant crunch when pickled.

Dilled Green Beans—I’ve heard about dilly beans for years; they are worthy of the hype. They pickle well and stay very crunchy. My favorite way to eat them: cut up into a salad or tuna or on the side of a sandwich.

Garlic—Pickled garlic loses the harsh spice of raw garlic and becomes slightly sweet. I’ve make garlic stuffed olives with these, cut them into sandwich spreads, and garnished martinis with them. Perfect! And they're so pretty in the jar.

Hungarian Hot Wax and Jalapeno Peppers—My husband likes spicy food, so these (from our garden peppers this summer—I love the colors) will find their way onto pizza, salads, sandwiches, sauces, etc.

Cherry Tomatoes—The absolute favorite in our house. We love them on a cream cheese bagel or in a salad. I have plans to blend a few spoonfuls into a vinaigrette dressing.

I never did get to cucumber pickles this year. Pickling cucumbers and the wedding were too close to ripeness at the same time. Next year, I need to make several dozen quarts to make up for it.

What is your favorite pickle?


Artist and crafter Maggie Wolcott writes about craft events in and around Spokane, as well as her own adventures in creating and repurposing. Her DwellWellNW posts include project and decorating ideas, recipes, reviews of events, and interviews with local artists. Maggie spends her days as an English professor, and when she’s not grading papers, she can generally be found with a paintbrush or scissors in hand. She can be reached at