Every Wednesday in Union Square, I am drawn to the pickle stand where you can sample smoked okra, spicy green beans and tangy beets, all bathed in vinegar and accented with herbs and pickling spice. Rick Field, the owner of Rick’s Picks decided three years ago to leave his job as a TV producer and start his own company bottling dill pickles and selling them at his store on the Lower East Side and in specialty stores throughout the city. Demand for other varieties of pickled veggies widened his product line, giving birth to great names like Phat Beets, Bee ‘n’ Beez, Slices of Life, and Spears of Influence. When asked about the nature of his work, Rick said “The thing about the pickling business is that the accent lies squarely on the second word.”
Pickling is a simple science that demands a commonsense approach to kitchen basics. In order to get the job done, all you need is a couple of pots, a couple of racks, measuring cups, a whisk, a timer, a knife and a cutting board. Rick acquired pickling fundamentals from his parents, who shared his passion, but for you newbies, pick up The Joy of Pickling, Quick Pickles, or Tseukimono, all helpful 101’s on getting started.
Recipe by Rick Field Wash 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers.
In each of 6 pint jars, put:
3 dill heads (or 1 tablespoon dill seed and several fronds dill leaf)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon pickling spice
6 whole black peppercorns
Bring to boil 3 cups of water, 3 cups of vinegar, and 6 teaspoons of kosher salt. You may need more of this mixture and should have extra on hand. Also: make sure to have the liquid at a roaring boil when placing the mixture in the jars. Slice the cucumbers into 1/4” rounds. Pack the slices tightly into jars, leaving 1/2” headroom. Fill the jars with the liquid mixture, making sure the solid contents of the jars are completely covered. Check to ensure there is still 1/2” headroom. Place the jars immediately in the boiling water bath. Process for seven minutes. Tighten lids but no need to over tighten. Lid is good if it doesn’t “pop” when you press down on it the next day.