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Zapped pickles: Quick and easy

Making pickles in the microwave is a snap. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Recipe: Microwave method for last cucumber (or zucchini) of summer

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.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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