Because we’ve been getting such beautiful produce from our local farmers, this is the perfect time of year for a quick pickle recipe.
Quick pickles are not canned, so they are not shelf-stable. Most quick pickles keep well in the fridge for four to six weeks, but we always eat them well before they get that old.
This recipe is for pickling cucumbers, but there is a whole pickling culture out there to tap into. Almost every vegetable imaginable is pickled in Jewish Turkish and Syrian food cultures. It’s even common for people to drink the pickle juice!
I often pickle a mix of celery, carrots and sliced hot peppers. Radishes, green beans, bell peppers, whole cherry tomatoes and fresh mushrooms are amazing pickled. You can use sliced cabbage or cauliflower, and add a little turmeric to the jar for color and taste. You can also use roasted beets, using the same vinegar solution and a few teaspoons of sugar per jar.
I rarely go to the market to buy specific vegetables for pickling — I just use what I have on hand.
You can adjust the amount of seasoning and sugar to your liking. The pickling solution is the same for all vegetables, so you can make a jar of this and a jar of that at the same time.
When pickling cucumbers, I always add lots of fresh garlic and fresh dill. If you’re using other vegetables, you can leave out the dill, but make sure to add garlic and some kind of pepper.
Pickles are so healthy. Just open the jar and add a few to your plate or your salad or put them on a mezze platter for snacking.
This recipe can be easily halved or doubled.
About 3 pounds of fresh pickling cucumbers or other washed and prepared vegetables
For the pickling liquid:
6 cups boiled water
4 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 cups white vinegar
Add-ins for dill pickles:
Sliced garlic cloves
Fresh herbs, like dill
Red pepper flakes
Whole black peppercorns
I prefer to make the pickles in several smaller jars — either 1.5-cup or 3-cup jars — because they keep better than larger jars, especially if the vegetables are cut into smaller pieces.
It’s imperative that your canning jars are sanitized. Run the jars and lids through the dishwasher cycle or immerse them in boiling water before filling them with vegetables.
Because it’s hard to know exactly how much liquid will be needed, I make a larger batch and discard any extra.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the kosher salt.
Once the liquid is almost cool, add the vinegar. Mix the solution in a measuring container with a spout so that it’s easy to pour over the vegetables.
If using a 1.5-cup jar, add 1 sprig of fresh dill with the stem, about a clove of sliced garlic and a few black peppercorns and red pepper flakes. If using a 3-cup jar, double the amount, and so on if you’re using a larger jar.
Pour the pickling solution over the vegetables so they are covered completely with liquid. The water can be added to the jars if it is slightly warm or completely cool.
With cucumbers, I add another sprig of fresh dill on top.
Cover each jar tightly with its lid and refrigerate immediately.
I make several jars of different dill pickles at once — one sliced for burgers, one with whole pickles, one of halves and one of spears. Pickle slices and spears are usually ready in 3 days. Whole pickles and firmer vegetables, like carrot sticks, may take 5-7 days before they are the desired consistency.
Pickled carrots, cauliflower and celery can last for months.
Pickled beets are a delight. For a 3-cup jar of sliced beets, add 3-4 teaspoons of white sugar to each jar. Beets are the only vegetable that I find better taste better pickled if they are cooked beforehand — everything else can be pickled raw.
Pickles are the best way to keep any extra produce from going to waste. PJC
Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.