As a kid, I used to say my favorite foods were dill pickles and hamburgers, in that order. Hamburgers have since been given the boot for fine cheese, but pickles remain at the top of my favorite foods list. And my favorite dill pickle comes from a jar in our fridge, packed with homegrown cucumbers, vinegary brine, big bunches of dill, some garlic and a dried red pepper or two. My grandmother’s recipe for dill pickles made its way down to my mother, who changed it ever so slightly by ratcheting up the spice factor. Either way, anyone who enjoys pickles (what’s up with you non-pickle people?) ranks my family’s recipe right up there at the very top. Last year, my mom broke the sad news to me: She wasn’t canning any more. “It’s too hot for me to stand in the kitchen and can all day,” she divulged. My heart sank — until she said, “I’m quick pickling, dear. It’s so much easier.” Refrigerator pickles, crock pickles, quick pickles — these are the pickles of our generation. They are best made in small batches and, unlike their processed counterparts, are stored in the fridge instead of the pantry. Depending on the recipe, the flavor can intensify after about a week of refrigerated fermentation, and the quick pickles will keep in the fridge for an additional week or two. Just like quick preserves, quick pickles aren’t complicated and don’t require any special equipment or fancy kitchen gadgets. They’re perfect for the summer bounty of fruits and vegetables because they can be made without the long water bath process (used to make canned goods shelf-stable) and are great for doing smaller batches. I like to pick a pint or two of peppers from the garden on Saturday morning, slice them, and make pickled peppers. The whole process from harvest to jar takes just about twenty minutes!
There are tons of recipes for quick pickles; an internet search will lead you to dizzying amounts of information. I usually use a basic salt, vinegar, and water brine for all of my quick vegetable pickles, simply because that’s what I keep on hand. But there are myriad recipes out there for sweet or spicy brines as well, and varying the vinegars will change the flavor of your pickles. Here are a few of my favorite quick pickle recipes:
Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles by Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars
Pickled Blueberries at Saveur
As for my ridiculously easy quick pickled peppers recipe, check it out on my blog Sustainable Diet. And if you’d like to try my family recipe for dill pickles, I share it on my blog too! While we went through the canning process to make our pickles shelf-stable, you can follow the same recipe and simply store them in the fridge instead of processing them. What is your favorite thing to quick pickle?