Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Refrigerator Pickles

Yesterday, I shared my methods for canning pickles, which is relatively easy and yields a delicious, crunchy pickle. But should you not have a good canning set-up, or just don't want to go to the trouble, and you think you'll eat all your pickles within about a month's time, you can just go with a batch of refrigerator pickles instead. No canning needed!

Here I'll share my parents' method of making pickles, but in Megan's comment on yesterday's post, she also referred to the brined pickles she had made from Wild Fermentation. I've heard great things about this book by Sandor Ellix Katz, and encourage you to check it out (I know Megan even found a recipe for homemade cherry ginger soda in this book!)


My mom's method for pickles is super easy:
  1. Collect cucumbers (hers this year came straight from their super-abundant garden)--any size will do, but you'll want to cut them down to uniform size. 
  2. Wash the cucumbers, and remove any bitter ends. 
  3. Find a container for your pickles. My mom sometimes uses a big jar (3 Liter) as pictured above, but she just as often uses a big enamel pot (best if it's non-reactive--avoid copper or aluminum pots). 
  4. Add the herbs and spices to your container. A bay leaf, lots of peeled garlic cloves, lots of fresh dill that has already gone to seed (so that it looks like a big flower--you can see some to the right of the above photo. If you don't have fresh dill, you can substitute dill seed), and some salt.  You can adjust salt later, after adding the water.
  5. Once the flavorings are in, insert your cucumbers vertically into your container. 
  6. Add room-temperature water until all your cucumbers are submerged. At this point, mix it all up a little and taste the water. You want it to be quite salty to the taste (noticeable, but not overpowering). Add salt as needed.
  7. Leave your cucumbers out overnight. They will lose some of their bright green color, and become a little yellower. The cooler your house, the longer you can leave them out before putting them in the refrigerator. But typically, you'll want to refrigerate them after about 24 hours.
  8.  These will last in the fridge for a month or even a month and a half, though they'll of course get more sour the longer they stand there. 
  9. You can also just keep adding fresh cucumbers to the same brine that's already in your fridge, and have any ever-present supply of refrigerator pickles!
Anyone else have good methods for pickles?

2 comments:

  1. Nice pickles again!

    (Just for clarification on the Katz book-- he's got a ginger beer recipe, but other fruit/juice added can work.)

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  2. Speaking of pickles, did you see this NYT op/ed on pickles and national identity?

    My mother often does a quick, fresh pickle, made of sliced cukes in vinegar (these days, seasoned rice vinegar) with fresh dill and a little sugar, just served up in a bowl on the table, simple as that. Another thing (also not really a pickle, but involving cucumbers) is to put sliced cucumbers in sour cream with dill and a little vinegar. I think that's the Polish heritage right there.

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