Gardens are a testimony in patience. You spend hours planting, watering, weeding, and loving your garden. And then you wait and hope there will be a favorable outcome. Well, I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for my garden to start producing some veggies. And I had waited long enough, because it seems that high temperatures combined with a TON of rain, create an environment prime for cucumbers (and a bunch of green tomatoes – but that’s a different story).
I love garden cucumbers. When picked young they have a sweet, non-bitter taste that is a great addition to many salads – from green to pasta. But at some point, you can only have so many cucumbers on a salad and need to find a new use for them in the kitchen.
One of our favorite recipes is the following refrigerator pickle recipe. It is easy because it requires no real “canning” (however, we will be doing some canning later), the pickles don’t take long to “cure”, and they are crunchier than Claussen. So they are like a lot of California Wines – ready to be consumed now. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can find cucumbers for dirt cheap at Farmers Market or in your CSA.
Step #1: Get Your Ingredients
For refrigerator pickles, you’ll need some pickling cucumbers (these are smaller in size and little softer – I have approximately 12 here), jars (any jar with a lid will do), vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, kosher salt, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, dill seed, and water.
Step #2: Cut Your Cucumbers
Wash your cucumbers. Then cut off the “knob” (or thing that attaches to the vine) and slice it into spears – between fourths and eighths, depending your cucumber size. Set aside.
Step #3: Fill Jars with Spices and Cucumbers
Take an inventory of how many cucumbers you have and the size of jars you are using. Determine how many jars you think you will use and then wash those jars. Place the following spices into each jar:
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- dash of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your level of spicy)
- 1 tsp dill seed
- 1 clove minced garlic
Then place speared cucumbers in jars on top of spices. You want them tight enough to get the most in per jar, but spacious enough to let the brine take its course.
Step #4: Making the Brine
Combine 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar. Mix until sugar and salt are dissolved. Then add 2 cups of cold water and mix again. Pour mixture over cucumbers until cucumbers are submerged in liquid. If you need more mixture – make another full or half-batch and pour until submerged. (Unfortunately, this isn’t a science. And don’t you love the hand-on-my-hip stance. I need to hire a better photographer.)
Place lids on jars and screw fairly tightly. Place in refrigerator overnight. Pickles will be good for up to a month. Enjoy!