Refrigerator Pickles

I do not can.  I do not can-can.  I would try a samba or tango, if the mood was right and I had the right dress, of course.

Back to canning.

I have never canned anything in my life.  One summer I had an immense garden and produced buckets of tomatoes, and entertained the idea of canning.  Yet, the tomatoes ended up in the freezer and worked just great for us all winter.

Do you adore pickles?  I kind of have a thing for them, and have been known to eat a half a jar.  Ok, fine, a whole jar.  Sweet, sour, half-sour, hot, dill, kosher, garlic - GIMME.

Since my sad little Minnesota garden will not be producing cucumbers for some time yet, I will have no photos for this recipe.  I'm pretty sure you all know what pickles look like, right?

This is the simplest and happy thing in the world - you can 'can' pickles without canning them!  They cure in the refrigerator!  And last for MONTHS.  Done right, they self-seal on your counter, and just improve in the fridge over some weeks.  They can be eaten after a few days, but get better and more pickly as time goes on.  I find two weeks is a good time to get at them.

Cucumbers.  Anyone can do those, right?  But I have pickled numerous things from my garden, the farmer's market, and the grocery store.  Cukes are a start. 

Summer Squash (the yellow stuff)
Green Beans
Peppers - including bell, banana, jalapeno, cayenne
Broccoli and Cauliflower
and - yes Joan - you can probably pickle okra

Got any of those?  Ok, let's get busy.  Feel free to a) combine one or more of the above vegetables; and b) adjust the amount of sugar, salt and spices to suit your tastes.  These are sort of "half-sours" meaning a bit sweet and a bit sour.

This recipe makes about 2 quarts, depending on your veggies.  Please make more, you'll be glad you did.  If you make too much brine, just save it in the fridge until you pick or buy more veggies.

Refrigerator Pickles

8 cups sliced cucumbers (or other vegetables)
1 cup sliced onion
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups vinegar (I use white, but apple cider works fine)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
fresh dill, a whole head per jar, optional
whole chili peppers (dried or fresh) if you're looking for spicy

Put sliced cukes, onions and garlic into clean, wide-mouthed glass jars (quart or pint sized).  Stuff in the dill if you're using it.  Add chilis if you want.  Have the lids and rings clean and standing by. 

In a pot on the stove, bring to a boil the vinegar, water, salt and sugar.  Make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Remove from heat, add the celery seed and mustard seed.

Using a funnel, pour or ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Immediately put on the lids and rings, screwing tightly.  Turn the jars over on your counter and let them sit, upside down for an hour or two.

Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for a few days, minimum.  If you think of it, you can give them a gentle shake to distribute the flavor, once a day, whatever.  If the jars "seal" meaning the lids are stuck fast, these will last in the fridge for months.  If they don't seal, they're good for at least several weeks.