Our garden has developed an interesting habit…at random intervals (with little to no warning), it will produce a cucumber the size of my forearm. But just one. This may or may not have something to do with a proliferation of weeds hiding under the cucumber leaves, obscuring cucumbers of smaller stature. Maybe. Regardless, when faced with a cuke (or two) of giant proportions, I turn to refrigerator pickles, for three reasons:
- They’re dead easy.
- They’re fast.
- They’re delicious. And did I mention easy?
The great thing about fridge pickles is that there’s a tremendous variety of brines you can make, and you can really focus on the flavor instead of making sure the acidity is proper and safe for long-term storage (which should be a main concern if you’re canning pickles). Think of refrigerator pickles as more of a salad, if you will. Take some poetic license!
I whipped up a batch on Monday before work, in fact, just to get my newest super-cuke percolating. (See? Fast!) If you have a food processor with a slicing blade, the pickles can be assembled in under 5 minutes. If not, you’re only as slow as you can slice!
For this batch, I added some red onion from our CSA, a pinch of dill seed, and a solid pinch of lovage-infused salt (also from our CSA!). I use a standard fridge pickle brine (for sweet pickles) that consists of 1 T. salt, 7/8 c. vinegar, and 1-1/4 c. sugar per pound of cucumber. You simply mix the cucumber and any other mix-ins you’re adding (thinly sliced onions and garlic are a great addition, but so are peppers and herbs!…think about 1 cup mix-ins total per pound of cuke). Then mix up your brine (if you need a little more to cover, just mix up another batch in the same proportion).
Combine everything in a large bowl (make sure the bowl is NON-REACTIVE!!! use ceramic or glass, but NO metal!). Weigh down the cukes with a small plate, loosely saran-wrap the bowl, and let it sit on the counter overnight.
The next day, pack the pickles into jars if you like, top up with brine, and put in the fridge. You can also just leave them in the bowl, but you’ll want to make sure it has a lid or your fridge will smell…pickle-y.
Since they’re quick-brined and not meant for long term storage, use the pickles up within a couple weeks. And, if you’re like me and the garden keeps randomly producing new cucumbers, save your brine and keep using it! A batch of brine can totally be reused to pickle once or twice!