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July 17, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:01 PM *

So, it’s summer. Cool salty things are nice. This led us to try making … pickles. They were waiting for us when we got home from Readercon.

I can report that the attempt was a complete success:

Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

  • 5 3-to-4-inch-long pickling cucumbers
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1⅓ cups white vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill weed
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2½ teaspoons pickling spice
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Put the cucumbers in a wide-mouthed, lidded, non-reactive container. Pour in the liquid to cover. Refrigerate for 10 days. Eat within 1 month.

Comments on Refrigerator Pickles:
#1 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:26 PM:

Please jump in with your favorite zucchini recipe! Please! New Jersey begs of you! If it uses less than 2 lbs zucchini I don't want to hear it.

#2 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:09 PM:

I bet you could fridge pickle zucchini...

#3 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:22 PM:

Refrigerator zucchini pickles?

The internet is on it.

#4 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:39 PM:

Disclaimer: I've never pickled anything in my life.

However, I did hear on the radio an interview with a person who pickles, and she mentioned that one should cut off the blossom end of a cucumber (I assume that also holds true for zucchini, but what do I know?) because it can have an enzyme in it that makes the pickles soft rather than crunchy.

For what it's worth.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:44 PM:

I have a zucchini chutney recipe - it goes well with turkeyburgers (minus buns) or, probably pork chops. It was written in English and I translated it and added the changes I made.

Zucchini Chutney
3 lb. zucchini, peeled and seeded
1/2 lb. shallots or boiling onions, peeled and sliced
1/2 lb. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced or chopped
12 peppercorns
1/4 oz. dried gingerroot, or a couple of 1/2-inch slices of fresh ginger
1/2 lb. golden raisins (regular raisins will work, but be much more visible)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 pints malt or cider vinegar

Cut the zucchini into small pieces, place in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt; cover and leave for 12 hours. Drain well and place in a pan with the shallots and apples. Tie the peppercorns and ginger in muslin (or use a large teaball) and put in the pan with the raisins, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the consistency is thick, with no free liquid. Put in jars and seal.
Makes approx. 4lb.

#6 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Doctor Science #1: There's always Jim MacDonald's zucchini bread.

#7 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:42 PM:

So is there a difference between pickling cucumbers and the regular abominations--er, pickles in training?

#8 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:19 PM:

Ken Houghton @7: Pickling cucumbers are smaller -- younger versions of the "regular" kind. Personally, I like to slice my cukes into pickle chunks.

Oh, I discovered last year that pickling mushrooms (in the same process as described above) with a bit of paprika in the solution resulted in some heavenly pickled mushrooms.

I must pickle some more. Mm.

#9 ::: Goob ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:30 PM:

Cassy B @4: I can corroborate that one (it's not that the pickles turn out bad if the blossom ends stay on, they're just not good).

Also of particular possible interest for picklers who like to keep things crisp: try adding some (fresh, washed) grape or horseradish leaves to the brine (the tannins in the leaves have good effects).

This is the second reason to grow horseradish, if you can. My caution here is to confine the stuff to a container or some other closed space: if it gets out into the lawn, it's miserably difficult to get rid of.

#10 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:02 PM:

This is just to say...

#11 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 10:39 AM:

Zucchini lasagna (or veggie lasagna)
With meat version.... shred enough zucchini for 2 cups. Mix with the ricotta and add oregano before assembling the lasagna.
Veggie only... shred four to six cups (some like a more noodle-y dish, I like more filling-filled dish) of zucchini, mix with spaghetti sauce, sauteed onions, sauteed garlic, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Assemble as usual, replacing the meat/sauce with the veggie/sauce. Bakes for the same amount of time.

Zucchini Boats
cut a zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds, leaving the ends intact. Fill the hollowed out bit with a sausage and stuffing mix (2 parts sausage to 1 part bread) and bake on a sheet at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes (depends on the size of the Zucchini) until the filling is done.

Fried Zucchini
slice the zucchini into half inch slices,
dip in egg wash
dip in flour seasoned with salt and pepper
fry in butter until golden, (turning over to get both sides.)

#12 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 10:41 AM:

A recipe for using quantities of zucchini is ratatouille:


I cheat wildly on this one.

3 big onions, chopped
1-2 quarts eggplant, peeled, in chunks
1-3 quarts zucchini, in chunks
One 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup olive oil

Put it all in a low cooker (if there's not space, put it in in order and let each vegetable cook until it softens); cook on low for 12-24 hours. A couple hours before it is done, salt to taste and put in a big sprig of rosemary; take the rosemary out when finished.

This is good on bread, or pasta, or rice, or as a vegatable all on it's own, or on pizza; it also freezes well. (I freeze it in 1/2 cup portions on a cookie sheet, then put it in a plastic bag.)

#13 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Sweet dills (or sweet spicy dills)

Start with a jar of whole dill pickles (I use Costco's gallon Kosher Spicy). Dump contents in the sink (i.e. discard brine).

Chunk up pickles and layer back in jar with liberal sprinklings of sugar.

Agitate twice daily until sugar sludge is redistributed.

Ready in about 3 days - when you've got pickle chunks in clear syrup.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:34 PM:

I made a chocolate zucchini cake last year that was awesome. I forgot where I go the recipe; it might have been in a special "How to get rid of all that zucchini" section of The Oregonian. I do recall it required a fair amount of work, layering the ingredients.

#15 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:44 PM:

Grilled zucchini:

Slice zucchini in a method appropriate for the size (large ones in circles, small ones quartered the long way, etc.) Grill until soft with some char on the outside. Cut into bite-size pieces; we always use kitchen shears for this so you can do it while they're still hot, just snip them in the bowl. Toss with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, a little balsamic vinegar, and lots of fresh basil.

This is very tasty and doesn't heat up the house when it's ridiculously hot out.

#16 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:45 PM:

Would the gnomes prefer their zucchini grilled, pickled, or baked into bread?

#17 ::: John Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Pickled carrots are quite tasty as well. I'm partial to Alton Brown's Firecracker pickles.

#18 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:22 PM:

Erik Nelson @10

This is just to say
I haven't eaten
the zucchini
that are in the icebox

and which
you probably hoped
would be gone
by breakfast

Forgive me
I had zucchini
so often
and so recently

#19 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:23 PM:

I wonder if this would work for spicy pickled green beans? I adore pickled green beans, but they cost $10 at the farmers' market, which I ain't got.

My mother & her church friends used to pickle, in my youth, but I always thought it involved a fair amount of boiling, and vacuum-sealed canning jars. If one can do it in the refrigerator with a random clean screw-top jar, I may just try it.

#20 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:43 PM:

Nenya @ 19: The boiling and proper sealing if for "putting up" or storing your pickles (in other words, without refrigeration). If you plan to consume them sooner than this winter, you can just pickle them in the fridge.

#21 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Ginger @20--oh, aha! Okay. That makes sense; they'd store their pickles unrefrigerated in a pantry, yes. I, were I to make pickles, would do them one or two jars at a time and nibble them immediately as soon as they were done.

#22 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 07:19 PM:

Slim Pickens had Earth in a pickle in Kubrick's classic of black humor's tickle.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 08:48 PM:

My grandmother would make 'dilly beans': green beans cut in pieces and put in jars with brine and dill sprigs. (Maybe dill seed, too.) It was something you kept in the fridge.

There are Middle-Eastern vegetable pickles, too. They tend to use things like turnips, cauliflower, carrots and onions, with a vinegar and salt brine. Some of them use chiles, too.

#24 ::: Kurt Montandon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 12:57 AM:

... the OP's recipe sounds seriously short on salt.

When making pickles, I use 1 cup of salt to 3 cups of water, boiled together to make proper brine. And even that's probably a bit weak.

And a fresh red pepper from the produce section - the dried stuff just doesn't seem to do it. And no sugar. I never use sugar while pickling anything - eggs (with balsamic vinegar, not white), green beans, cauliflower, whatever. Sugar takes the edge off.

I'd also like to re-emphasize my use of balsamic vinegar when making pickled eggs. That, and whole coriander and cloves, mixed into the full strength brine. Then wait at least two weeks. The balsamic vinegar brings a whole new flavor to traditional pickled eggs.

(Did I mention I like saltiness and tanginess combined ... a lot?(

#25 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:57 AM:

Re: recipe "short on salt"

Highly salted condiments are literally a matter of taste. When I crave acid, I'm usually running low on Vitamin C.

Brined pickles need salt/acid to keep safely when canned and stored for months at room (cellar) temp. Bread-and-butter/icebox pickles with far less salt became popular with home refrigeration.

Many pickle recipes call for alum, which adds crispness. Higher-than-usual aluminum salts are found in the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We don't yet know if eating traditional pickles, or cooking in aluminum, or drinking from the Oglala aquifer might have contributed, or if there's some other mechanism that might cause this as a side effect.

Most commercial pickles have alum, presumably for texture and because it's traditional. I feel safer leaving it out of anything I make.

#26 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 10:00 AM:

Kurt @24: you realize, when you add balsamic vinegar to the egg pickle, one of the significant things you're adding is... sugar.

Depending on the age and priciness of the balsamic vinegar, there are all sorts of other flavor compounds in there, of course, but from the cheapest supermarket "balsamic" to the stratospheric, apply-it-with-an-eyedropper Real Stuff, it's got plenty of sugar in it, either residual from the barrel fermentation or added to give that effect.

I sometimes wonder if supermarket balsamic vinegar is similar to the "blackstrap" cheap horrible wine that naval officers with little money drank in the Patrick O'Brian books (and presumably in reality). It's not WINE by any stretch of the imagination, but it's oddly palatable.

#27 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 10:53 AM:

Rikibeth @26: I used to drink balsamic vinegar by the quarter-cup in my adolescence, out of some unidentifiable craving that seemed to be thus satisfied. I wonder if it was just some sort of sugar-and-acid craving after all?

#28 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Fade: I wouldn't be a bit surprised. ISTR hearing about some Italians drinking the Good Stuff in shot-glass quantities as a post-prandial treat -- I think it was in one of Corby Kummer's food articles for The Atlantic.

I can attest that the sugar-and-acid quality makes "balsamic reduction drizzle" very appealing to my fussy-eater housemate. I use the cheap stuff, and of course reducing it concentrates the sugars still further. I use it on a pasta-and-asparagus dish. The drizzle acts like a sweet-and-sour sauce without the thickening glop. :)

#29 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 12:00 PM:

I just whacked up a Napa cabbage and started it brining in a bucket. There will be kimchi tonight! ...Not *real* kimchi, but the non-fermented refrigerator-pickle equivalent. Much faster, still tastes good.

#30 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:09 PM:

Another nice option for salty cool summer pickles are the Indonesian Acar variations. I have tried my hand at some quick vinegar based cabbage and onion varieties, spiced with chilli and tumeric (which is the most common variety in supermarkets here). The results are nice so far, but I am not quite happy yet.

#31 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 06:53 PM:

There's a rather nice pickled shredded carrot thing with a strong bite of wasabi that The Local serves with its tuna tartare. It's tasty enough to perhaps lure me into trying to make some myself.

#32 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:24 PM:

I have a recipe for bread-and-butter pickles that are canned. They're soaked overnight in brine (1 cup of salt to a quart of water) and then cooked (with seasonings) in a mix of 2 quarts of vinegar and 4 cups of sugar. It's from the 30s, I think.

#33 ::: Ellemay ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:24 PM:

My family's 'ready in hours' cucumber pickle recipe is thus:

Slice cucumbers into rings.
Place in container.
Fill to covering with equal amounts of sweet chili sauce and seasoned rice wine vinegar.
Place in fridge.

Good for when you only have a few hours of prep. We frequently hold onto the brine for a week or two, replacing the cucumber slices when low.

#34 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:48 PM:

There were eight pickling cucumbers in the fridge from the weekly farm box, and they needed a home. I just followed the original recipe above, substituting a few tablespoons of dried dill weed for the fresh dill and halving the red pepper flakes.

I haven't closed up the jar yet. Should I take the cucumbers out and cut off the blossom ends? There aren't any visible signs of blossoms there, and I didn't think of it earlier.

#35 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 10:14 PM:

Go ahead. Cut off the end opposite the stem. Maybe it'll help. Won't hurt.

#36 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:29 AM:

Neil W @18

Stefan @14
This is probably a different recipe, since it doesn't involve layering, but it's a great way to use up zucchini.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup cocoa
2 cups grated zucchini
½ c mini chocolate chips (optional)
Grease and flour 2 8½ by 4½ loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cocoa, and add to the egg mixture. Stir until the dry ingredients are mixed in, add the zucchini, and mixture until all are evenly distributed. Add chocolate chips if using them, and blend briefly to distribute them through the batter. Divide evenly between the pans. Bake for 1 hour, cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and unmold onto the rack. Let cool completely before serving.

#37 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:38 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @29: There will be kimchi tonight! ...Not *real* kimchi, but the non-fermented refrigerator-pickle equivalent. Much faster, still tastes good.

If you believe Maangchi (and why shouldn't you?) it needn't be fermented a long time or even at all to be "real" kimchi.

I use her recipe almost every year. I let it ferment for about two days at room temperature, but I always save a little for eating fresh. Many things go in there besides the napa cabbage and carrots and onions. Kale. Radishes. Turnips. If it's in the fridge and needs eating, it'll go in the brine and thence in the pepper paste.

#38 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Nicole @ 37: Radishes? Chopped, sliced, or whole? I have a bag of radishes in the fridge, and some cabbage already turning into "kimchi".

#39 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 04:43 PM:

My ye-olde cookbooks all suggest putting a few fresh leaves from a cherry tree or blackcurrant bush into the jar of dill pickles to keep them crunchy. I've done this and it works fabulously. I think it's the tannins in the leaves that causes the pickles to stay crisp.

#40 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:22 PM:

Ginger @38 - Sliced radishes. Also, kimchi benefits from the vegetables in question still being crisp. Judge your produce supply wisely.

#41 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:48 PM:

re "Add leaves for crispy pickles" -

Grape leaves also work well.

#42 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 07:44 AM:

Well, as it turns out, adding radishes (sliced) to pickling cabbage results in a dish so awesome I had to restrain myself from using all capitals. As an added benefit, the red pigment in the outer layer of the radish is dissolved into the brine, and turns everything a mild pink.

The radish slices pickled quickly and so awesomely that the FG decided against eating the remainder of the radishes (with a bit of salt, as she usually does), and demanded that I slice them into the pickling jar. This has never happened before.

In other food news, the blackberries have ripened at the PYO places, although the blueberries are just about all gone. Four quarts of blackberries are now being consumed. The peaches still need ripening, although they smell wonderful.

I can hardly wait for lunch today.

#43 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:27 PM:

I didn't cut the blossom ends off of my refrigerator pickles, and I am happy to report they're deliciously crunchy anyway. They're slightly sweeter than I'd prefer. Next time I'll cut the sugar.

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