Pickling pickles in the fridge is fast, forgiving and oh so tasty.
Maybe the garden isn’t yielding big this year. Maybe you just have a few leftover cucumbers or other garden vegetables hanging around. Or maybe you’re just itching for some homemade pickles without the hassle and time that goes with processing a large batch for long-term storage. Whatever the reason, refrigerator pickles are an easy way to get a quick pickle fix without spending all day standing in front of the stove processing jars in a hot water bath for shelf storage.
Although refrigerator pickles can only be stored for a couple of months and must remain refrigerated, they have some undeniable advantages over their water-bath-canned pickled brethren.
They haven’t earned the nickname “quickles” for nothing. Pickles are ready for the fridge with just a few minutes work and a few days wait until they are ready to eat. Not bad, considering it sometimes takes weeks for some conventionally canned pickles to reach their prime.
Refrigerator pickles also have an another advantage over canned in that they need not play by the rules. There are brine requirements when pickling for shelf storage. Acidity needs to be in range. Salt levels must be just so. Additives can lead to mushy produce, discoloration or dangerous spoilage. Refrigerator pickles generally skip the drama of these issues, remaining crisp and pretty even when the brine isn’t "just so." For those who have invested hours canning a large batch of pickles for shelf storage only to find they are stuck with a mushy dill that is less than kosher, quickles start looking better and better.
For inexperienced picklers, the forgiving nature of refrigerator pickles isn’t the only appeal. If this is your first foray into the joys of pickling, no special equipment is required to get started. Although jars should still be sterilized (which a trip through the dishwasher set to “hot” will provide), any jar with a tight-fitting lid will get the job done. And because quick pickles are a small batch endeavor, failed “experiments” are a small loss.
Give this recipe for refrigerator pickles a try. Cucumbers are the most popular of pickled vegetables, but carrots, cauliflower, beets or green beans are all great candidates for pickling. Pick your favorites or use whatever the garden is giving you these days. Feel free to toy around. Add some herbs. Adjust the vinegar. In the refrigerator, breaking the rules is part of the fun.
- 2 cup white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs fresh dill
- 2 quarts cucumbers or other garden vegetables for pickling (sliced, chopped or whole)
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, celery seed, mustard seed and garlic in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
As brine cools, pack pint or quart jars with cucumbers and add a sprig of dill.
Once brine is cool to the touch, pour into jars to cover cucumbers.
Cap with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating.