I ♥ Pickles

Pickles.  Why are they so good and why am I SO addicted to them?

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When I was a young girl, I craved pickles.  Dill pickles that is.  It was something about the sour taste and crunch that my body craved.  I’ll never forget being at my friend Dawne’s house and her mom would buy the pickle spears – OH.  MY.  GAWSH.  I fell in love.  I came from such a large family that my parents could not afford to buy pickle spears so all we had growing up were hamburger pickle slices which were yummy and did the trick but a pickle spear was GREAT!

 

As a young adult, I found my cravings didn’t slow down at all.  I also like green olives for the same reason (not as much as I love pickles) for the salty sour taste.  I also noticed that pickles would settle my sour stomach which was a benefit.

As a teenager, my friend’s mom actually pickled okra and let me try it and I was BLOWN AWAY!  She had every variety of pickle under the sun; sweet, dill, bread and butter, hot, spicy, etc.  I had no clue and was AMAZED by this new revelation.  She pickled cucumbers, okra, and even green tomatoes and each one was better than the next.  Something about the home canning of pickles that has a whole new taste and experience.  All the tlc that goes into canning veggies is truly amazing and to have someone let me try their finished product was beyond words.  I was hooked.  She had an entire pantry of pickles in every shape, size, and taste.  Oh, what I wouldn’t have done to live there!

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When I was pregnant, my body desperately craved HOT pickled veggies.  I would go to the store in the middle of the night to get them.  I would sit down and eat an entire jar.

As an adult I even enjoy “pickles” in my salad.  Much like they serve at the Olive Garden – the pepperoncini pickled peppers.  Pickles.  Why are they so good and why am I addicted to them?  Not only are pickles and pickled peppers very popular, but there is a wide variety of pickled vegetables on the market today. Some are found nationally, others regionally. They include pickled asparagus, beets, cauliflower, cocktail onions, green tomatoes, okra, sauerkraut, sweet mixed vegetables, sweet pickles with raisins, and more.

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If I order an Italian beef I must have the pickled hot peppers on there too.  Love the hot crunch to go along with my food I guess.  I even enjoy dill pickle relish on my hot dogs.  Seems there’s a pickle for every situation 🙂

Fast forward to this day, still eating and enjoying pickles on a daily basis.  I can eat an entire jar in one sitting with no problem at all.  I eat them for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner sometimes and just skip the meal completely.  Not sure why I’m so addicted but there’s no denying it- I am, wholeheartedly.

 SOME PICKLE FACTS:

 A Peck of Perfectly Plausible Pickle and Pickled Pepper Facts

  • Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation, discovered at the dawn of civilization, thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia.
  • North Americans prefer pickles with warts. Europeans prefer wartless pickles. Refrigerated pickles account for about 20 percent of all pickle sales.
  • International Pickle Week is one of the country’s longest running food promotions –it’s been observed for more than 50 years. IPW actually runs for 10 days during the last two weeks of May.
  • According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles are technically a “fruit” of the vine (like tomatoes), but they are generally known as a vegetable.
  • Americans consume more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles each year – that’s 20 billion pickles! And since it takes almost 4 billion pickles to reach the moon, all the pickles we eat would reach the moon and back more than 2 times!
  • Pickle Packers International has its own official limerick and theme song – the Pickle Polka. The pickle got its name in the 1300s when English speaking people mispronounced William Beukelz’ name – he was a Dutch fisherman known for pickling fish.
  • The phrase “in a pickle” was first introduced by Shakespeare in his play, The Tempest. The quotes read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle�”
  • On his voyage in 1492, Columbus not only discovered America, but gave peppers their name. In search of black pepper from the Orient, he assumed the spicy pods used to flavor foods in America were a form of black pepper and mistakenly called them “pimiento,” or pepper. Actually, the plants are not related at all.
  • The “hot” sensation one experiences when eating pickled peppers is caused by Capsaicin. This powerful substance can be detected at one part in a trillion.
  • During WWII the U.S. Government tagged 40 percent of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.
  • When you eat hot peppers, the pain receptors on the tongue react and cause a physical reaction called “sweating.” You start to salivate and perspire, your nose runs, your metabolism speeds up – this is all the body’s reaction working to cool itself.
  • Good pickles have an audible crunch at 10 paces. This can be measured at “crunch-off” using the “scientific” device known as the Audible Crunch Meter. Pickles that can be heard at only one pace are known as denture dills.

Pickles – Past to Present

Few foods could be considered more a part of Americana — we’ve been eating pickles since Christopher Columbus discovered America. Since then, the pickled cucumber has evolved into a favored snack and recipe ingredient that is available in more than 36 varieties.

Pickle history began sometime around 2030 B.C., when inhabitants of Northern India brought cucumber seeds to the Tigris Valley. Soon, cucumber vines were sprouting throughout Europe. Shortly thereafter, people learned to preserve the fruits of their labor by pickling them in a salty brine. By the 17th century, the crunchy pickled cucumber had made its debut in the New World. Early colonists grew so fond of them that in 1820, Nicholas Appert constructed the first pickle plant in America.

In fact, America was named for a pickle peddler — Amerigo Vespucci. He was a ships chandler, outfitting vessels scheduled for long explorations with vitamin C-packed pickled vegetables — particularly cucumbers — to prevent scurvy among crew members.

Through the years, pickles enjoyed a flourishing reputation. From continent to continent, the world’s most humorous vegetable made an in-dill-able impression on monarchs, presidents and even military men. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, believed they contributed to health and beauty. Queen Elizabeth I developed a passion for pickles, as did Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Troops under Julius Caesar and Napoleon relished the thought of having crunchy pickles at meal time, and during World War II, the U.S. government earmarked 40 percent of pickle production for the Armed Forces.

Pickles also played a part in folk medicine. Many people believed that sour pickles helped balance the acid-alkaline content of the body and destroy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Many modern-day celebrities are reported to be passionate about pickles. Actor Bill Cosby, sexy Brooklyn-born actress Fran Drescher (The Nanny), ex-New York Mayor Ed Koch and Guardian Angel-founder Curtis Sliwa are just a few recognizable names that are rumored to be pickle connoisseurs. Late Night host Conan O’Brien has a giant plastic pool pickle in his office, and hip-swiveling rock ‘n’ roller Elvis Presley liked to eat fried pickles.

Now in their 4,000th year, pickles are big business. They grow in more than 30 states, with Michigan and North Carolina the prime purveyors of pickled produce. And because Americans are so passionate about pickles, pickle packers everywhere continue to work hard to produce pickle products to please even the pickiest palate.

PICKLE FACT CREDIT GOES TO:  I Love Pickles

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