It’s officially mid-July and while our garden tomatoes and peppers have yet to hit their prime time, one thing has taken over with no signs of slowing down – cucumbers. After adding them to salads, pastas, salsa, and giving them away at every turn, I am still struggling to keep up with nature’s rapid rate of production. This week, as I stared at the multiplying mound of green veggies piled in my refrigerator produce drawer, the thought hit me – Pickles!
A year ago, I vowed to look into canning and preserving as a way to enjoy our garden harvests later in the year. Well… that didn’t happen, mostly because the whole process seems too daunting to me. I don't want to order a canning kit and have to (gasp!) research what to do – not my style. Luckily, in my quest for palatable pickles, I found a perfect recipe on our site for the lazy canner in me. ‘Easy refrigerator pickles’ is a popular 5-star recipe by Cooking Light that requires no sterilization and no vacuum sealed cans.
Once I tracked down all my available glass jars and chopped the vegetables, this recipe came together super fast and was a lot of fun to make. Celery seed, mustard seed and ground turmeric were a few spices on the ingredient list that I don’t use on a regular basis but everything else I had on-hand. The pickling solution was made up of white vinegar with all the spices and garlic thrown in and brought to a boil. Once that mixture was bubbling, I poured it over the sliced cucumbers and onions, already in the jar. Amazingly, that’s really all there was to it. After tightening the lids on the jars, the only thing left to do was wait. The instructions say to chill for at least 4 days and store in the refrigerator up to one month.
A quick disclaimer about the pickling liquid! The turmeric in it stains everything it touches yellow, so be careful with your nice hand towels and countertops! See those white countertops in the photos? Yeah, I learned this lesson the hard way.
All in all, this pickling process was simple and unintimidating. I doubled the recipe and ended up with 6 jars of pickles: some to keep and some to share. Thank goodness I now have an easy go-to recipe that I can’t wait to try with green beans, okra, zucchini and whatever else pops out of the garden and into our fridge.
The real beauty of this recipe is there’s so much room for adaptation. Love sweet pickles? Increase the sugar. Not a fan of onions? Try replacing with carrots or sweet peppers. Like a little more heat? Add in a few fresh jalapeños or increase the amount of crushed red pepper. All that is certain is this: Carry a jar of these crunchy, sweet and spicy pickles to your next summer cookout and you will be a homemade hero.
For more pickling and canning ideas click here!