When you surf the web, you won’t get wet but you’ll run the risk of being drenched by the wacky. Conspiracy theorists, religious fanatics, and devoted lovers of chocolate are everywhere out there. No, I’m not saying those three groups are equivalent. If you want to see real danger, try proposing limits on chocolate consumption.

Some of the doomsday theories are interesting. Like, the world is going to hell in hand basket and we are just a generation away from The Armageddon. You should buy gold.

Some of the theories just happen to have a layer of truth. You see, there are aspects of civilization that really are being lost. Here’s an example. Over eight thousand years of human progress in food preservation has been seriously compromised in just two generations. The culprits? Freezers. Megamarts. And the short attention span created by those electronic gadgets we have become addicted to. You know, if it’s important, you can do it in 140 characters or less on Twitter.

How did our city life ever get started? People stopped being hunters and gatherers. They put down roots, figuratively. By being able to grow food, and preserve it, there was a quantum change in human life.

Preserving food. If you grew up in the 50’s or even into the 60’s, you may remember a mom who during the late spring and summer and fall was constantly in the kitchen “putting up” food for the rest of the year. Jams and vegetables went flying into glass jars. Or metal cans. I remember a canning coop in Portland, Oregon, where you could take beans and carrots and “professionally” process them into stark metal cans.

When was the last time you preserved anything? Canned anything? Have you ever, ever done it?

See, it’s almost a lost art.

Except, it’s coming back. Over the past few years there has been a bit of a renaissance. Maybe it’s the recession. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s people reading the labels on the back of the jars and seeing all the “other stuff” that comes from commercial food. Look at The Joy of Pickling, the source of this recipe, for evidence that canning can be cool.

If you preserve it yourself, you control everything. You control flavor and color. The nuance of the spices. The amount of salt. The size of the onions or mint or pepper chunks that float in the jar.

And now, the canning renaissance has introduced new techniques, too. Instead of having to sterilize those glass jar and “process” the filled jars with boiling water — which does affect flavor and color — there are new and very much better ways to save your fresh food.

This recipe is for a freezer pickle. You don’t boil the jars before filling. Or after. You just use clean jars and freeze the pickles. Then thaw, taste, and wipe the tears from your eyes.

Simply put: these pickles are as good as anything you have ever had. I’m too modest to call them “the best” but, secretly, they are.

When we made these, Brian and I went into our garden, picked fresh cucumbers and mint and headed to the kitchen. From vine to jar was just a few hours. The combination of fresh produce and quick techniques is unbeatable.

Lime-Mint Freezer Pickle

Yield: 4 pints

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ pounds pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 small sweet ripe pepper, such as bell or pimiento, chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar

Preparation:

In a large bowl, toss the cucumber slices with the slat. Let the cucumbers stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, and then drain them.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and stir well. Refrigerate the mixture for 8 to 10 hours.

Pack the cucumbers and liquid in freezer bags or rigid containers and freeze the containers.

Thaw the pickles for about 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Source: The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedric