Fridge Pickles, Your Way


By Kerri Conan 

Not to be confused with my shortcut brined-in-the-skillet version that ran on this page a couple weeks back. These are two quick refrigerated pickles backed by bona fides. The first comes from the book mentioned in that piece, my precious Quick Pickles. And then after the jump are Mark’s favorite kosher pickles, lifted verbatim from both the old and the new editions of How to Cook Everything. Another—totally different—winner. 

As long as you don’t mess with the proportions in the brine, the flavors and ingredients are totally customizable. 

To get to the gems you see in the photo—magnified and distorted as they begin their curing adventure—I pulled from two recipes in Quick Pickles: the Fresh Dill and Your Classic Bread and Butter. Here’s how: Scrub and trim about 5 pounds of pickling cucumbers. (We grow a 1924 variety called Double Yield, which I combined with very young, small Poona Kheera, a crazy-looking field cucumber from India that I’ll share in a future post.) Cut them into spears or thick chips (I did some of both). For good measure I tossed in some of our small onions. 

Put the veggies in a big glass jar or ceramic crock, sprinkling as you go with whatever spices you want. I didn’t have a traditional pickling blend handy, so I tossed in whole peppercorns; coriander and black mustard seeds; 2 or 3 fresh, unripe, seeded habanero chiles (they’re not too hot) and several garlic cloves from the garden. For the dill, I used an assortment of seeds plucked from our dill patch; some were still green but most had begun to dry. And a pinch of turmeric for that golden pickly color. 

All told you want close to a cup of seasonings. Some other suggestions from the book: fresh grated horseradish, celery seed, fresh dill heads or fronds (fennel is another good choice), bay leaves, thick red onion crescents. Or try adding warm spices like cinnamon sticks (I like star anise), and allspice or cloves. 

Now combine 3 cups wine or cider vinegar with 6 cups water and 1/2 cup kosher salt in a big pot and bring it to a boil. If you want to balance the vinegar with some sweetness—and work your way into a bread-and-butter pickle—add up to 2 1/2 cups granulated or brown sugar and stir the pot to dissolve it. (I added no sugar in this batch.) Pour enough of the brine over the stuff in the jar to submerge everything. Cool to room temperature, then resist the urge to sneak a taste for 2 days—long enough to let them do their thing. Covered tightly they’ll last in the fridge for a couple months. 

And now, for Mark’s slightly more perishable, utterly classic pickle recipe. While you read this, I’m heading downstairs to raid the pickle jar. 

Mark’s Kosher Pickles, the Right Way

Makes: About 60 pickle quarters or 30 halves

Time: 1 to 2 days 

From Mark’s headnote: “No vinegar here, so these don’t keep for very long (about a week), but they’ll be eaten quickly enough that you’ll never see one go bad. These are my favorite pickles and those of everyone for whom I’ve made them too.” All true of course, but if you miss your vinegar, you can always add it to the brine after curing or sprinkle a few drops on the pickles directly right before eating. That gives you better control over the acidity anyway. 

1/3 cup kosher salt

1 cup boiling water

2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, washed (scrub if spiny) and halved or quartered lengthwise

At least 5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large bunch fresh dill, preferably with flowers, or 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds, or 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 

1. Combine the salt and boiling water in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool the mixture, then add all the remaining ingredients. 

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to keep the cucumbers immersed. Set aside at room temperature. 

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 4 hours if you’ve quartered them, 8 hours if you’ve halved them. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 or even 48 hours for them to taste pickly enough to suit your taste. 

4. When they are ready, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to ferment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to a week.


6 thoughts on “Fridge Pickles, Your Way

  1. Thanks for another great post. Pickles are close to my heart and I’ve been making them since I was about 8 years old.Frankly, I MUCH prefer the second recipe by Mark. I find it funny that in order to make cheap fast industrial pickles with long shelf time in America, manufacturers cook them in sugar, vinegar and chemicals like Polysorbate 80 so they get a wierd crunch, they are way too sweet and have glowing green-yellow color. Then, people who grow up on them get used to these funky characteristics so much that they need to add sugar, vinegar and turmeric to get that horrible store-bought flavor at home. Mark’s recipe is more like classic, like Middle-Eastern, Southern European or Balkan pickles, but these are really cured cucumbers; not pickles. Pickling to me is when you brine the cucumbers at least long enough for vinegar to naturally occur (Give it a few days). Yes, I know this is supposed to be "quick pickles" but frankly, like aging cheese and wine, pickles too can’t be over-rushed if you want quality. They take 10 minutes to make anyway; then just wait the few days. Waiting will yield true preserved pickles that can be kept for a long time. Moreover, it will really bring out the deep character of the cucumber, its earth and your spices (instead of just masking it quickly with spices). If the salinity of the brine is high (15% salt) than the cucumber will firm up nicely while the liquid in its cells be replaced by brine by way of osmosis. This will preserve it against pathogens and create a lovely pickle. Lastly, pickles start with a good cucumber (and good salt). Unfortunately all of these sweet fat cucumbers are way too watery and you end up pickling 70% seeds and 30% cucumber… Two fantastic varieties to pickle are the Persian and the Israeli cucumbers. They are firm and thin, full of flavor and crunch and contain more cucumber and less seeds by volume. Hope this helps…

  2. Then there’s another recipe that culls al of the good stuff from this…sour tomatoes. Too late to post it tonight, but it will come.

  3. The MB recipe is the worst EVER. 48 hours after following the recipe to a T i have cucumbers that are so salty they defy description i threw them all out. Show me one person who can eat these without total disgust and I’ll donate $500 to any charity you want

  4. I did pickles this way this year. They were good! I normally don’t eat dill pickles (just make them for Hubs) but I like these!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s