Thursday, August 22, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles

**We interrupt the dissertation writing to bring you this important information about pickles!**

Visiting my friends Cory and Hannah in Minnesota, we had the most splendid refrigerator pickles. For all the wacky fermenting of cabbage I've done, I've never actually made a straight-up quick pickle, except for these pickled red onions.

So this recipe is not fermented, but it still changes over time as it sits in the fridge. I looked for a recipe that was similar to the pickles Hannah made--spicy, not too sweet, and with a pleasant yellow color. This one did the trick!

The only major change I made was that this recipe called for 3/4 c sugar. Now, I hate sweet pickles, but sometimes I like following recipes when I'm making something new. I was going to cut it back to 1/2 c until I got to the crucial moment, standing over the pot, and I balked and only put in 1/4 c. Perfect! They don't really taste sweet at all; the sugar just mellows out the chili and vinegar, like in spaghetti sauce.

I didn't have yellow mustard seeds, and I debated between using black mustard seeds and ground yellow mustard. Since I was using celery seeds too, I figured I could forgo the seediness and went with the ground yellow. I think the flavor--celery, turmeric, and mustard--was perfect. I have to imagine that even prepared mustard would work just fine.

One last note: these pickles are spicy! Not inedibly so. Not even uncomfortably so. And they are a condiment, after all (though I keep just eating forkfuls out of the jar). Still, if you're not into spicy, I would use half as much cayenne.

One question lingers. Would they be better with dill? I love the taste and smell of fresh dill, but it tends to overwhelm everything in its path if one is not careful. Still, the next batch I make, I probably won't be able to resist trying that addition.

Oh, and: I got to use my mandoline! The 
order-imposing feeling of creating perfectly even slices is perhaps even more relaxing than turning word files into pdfs.

Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

6 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (this was about 4-5 short cukes for me)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 1/2 cups white vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds or ground (dry) yellow mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less--see note)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced


Place 3 cups cucumber in a medium glass bowl; top with 1 cup onion. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 cups cucumber and remaining 1 cup onion.
Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. (note: I've shattered glass jars by pouring boiling water into them, so I let it sit for a few minutes before continuing) Pour over cucumber mixture; let cool. Cover and chill at least 4 days. Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. Makes about 7 c.

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