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Zapped pickles: Quick and easy

Recipe: Microwave method for last cucumber (or zucchini) of summer

Making pickles in the microwave is a snap.

These homemade pickles are ready in a snap. The secret? They're zapped! It's a wonderful way to use up the last cucumber or zucchini of summer.

The microwave speeds up the pickling process, allowing the other ingredients to penetrate the vegetables. Instead of several days or weeks, these pickles are ready overnight.

I admit that I was shocked by the idea of microwaving pickles. I tend to think of cucumber pickles as work, submerging dill-size cukes in ice while boiling the jars.

This bread-and-butter method proved super easy. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator at least a month. But they never last that long; they're all gone quickly, too.

Zapped bread and butter pickles
Makes about 1 pint

1 large (8-to 10-inch) cucumber, washed and sliced
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher (non-iodized) salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon pickling spice
Scrub cucumber well and slice crosswise about 1/8-inch thick with skin on. Peel and slice onion.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix salt, sugar, vinegar and pickling spice. Add cucumber and onion slices. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap, vented on one side.
Microwave on HIGH for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring twice. Cucumbers should be tender and onions soft and translucent.

Sterilize a pint jar (the dishwasher works fine). Transfer the pickle mixture into the jar and seal tightly. Chill in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Note: For less sweet pickles, reduce sugar to 1/2 cup. Zucchini may be substituted for cucumber.
(Photo by Debbie Arrington)


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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