In a pickle?
I tend to be an overzealous planter, especially when it comes to cucumbers. I just love how fresh tasting and versatile they are. Our entire family enjoys eating them in all sorts of different ways.
When life gives you a bushel of cucumbers make refrigerator pickles, I say. There is no need to worry about the hassle of canning, they are ready to eat in 24 hours (If you are impatient; we are!), and they are ridiculously good.
Given that I usually don’t measure anything, it was difficult for me to break down the recipe for an exact size of jar. Use the ratios below as a general guide, some ingredients such as the salt and sugar can be altered depending on the taste you are looking for, as can the optional additions I have suggested.
6 cups cucumbers
2 cups onions
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar (1.5 – 2 cups) if you prefer sweet pickles
½ cup pickling salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp pepper
1 hot pepper
2 cloves garlic
Select a clean container. If you want to sterilize it you can run it through the dishwasher on high or place it in a pot of boiling water, but since these pickles won’t last long this step is up to you.
I use ice cream size pails and ensure they are clean. When preparing my cucumbers and onions, I prefer to cut them into thin slices and stuff as many alternating layers as I can into whatever container I am using. If you are going to add in a clove of garlic or hot pepper now is the time. Fill the containers to the top or as tightly as you can.
Over medium heat add vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Sugar and salt crystals should be completely dissolved and the mixture should boil for a minute or two.
Carefully remove the brine from the stove and pour into containers, completely covering the cucumbers. Allow the container to cool and place it in the refrigerator.
Most recipes say the mixture will require a couple of days or week before consumption. We barely wait 24 hours before the first container is cracked open. (Make sense why I use the ice cream pails now, huh?) Refrigerator pickles only last in the fridge for about a month, or so I’ve heard. I don’t think a pail has ever made it that long.
What I love about this recipe is its versatility. Not being one for true recipes, I tend to throw things together and never quite make the same thing twice, I have altered this recipe in all sorts of ways – increasing or decreasing the sugar, increasing the salt for those that prefer a saltier tasting pickle, adding dill, garlic and so on. The only thing I hope you don’t eliminate is the turmeric. Tumeric is an incredibly healthy herb assisting the body in several ways including digestion, it adds a great colour and flavour.
This is a great basis for all refrigerator pickles. I also use the same basic recipe for beets. I boil the beets, peel and slice them, then place them in a container and pour the brine over it. When making a brine for beets, I add a little more sugar, less salt, less celery seeds and eliminate the turmeric.
If you do try the recipe let me know, I’d love to hear how it turned out and what changes you made. Enjoy!