Introduction: Easy Refrigerator Pickles

About: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher. In the remainder of my life, I am a mother of two handsome grown men, a wife to a very patient man, a nana of two precious grandchildren, c…
So it's hot, the garden is bursting with a bounty of cucumbers, and you don't have
a pressure cooker. You don't have a set of canning jars, you don't know the first
thing about making pickles, but you want some. What to do?

With a glass bowl, a saucepan, a pile of cucumbers and a few other ingredients
including spices, a fun and tasty batch of pickles is just four days away!

And yes, for those like myself who have issues with patience sometimes, waiting
four days is not absolutely mandatory. Come along, let's make Easy Refrigerator Pickles!

Step 1: Let's Look at the Recipe...

As with almost all of the cookbooks I've collected, this recipe came
from a book found in a second hand store. So often, I find great books
tossed to the curb simply because they aren't the latest, greatest, or
hottest thing off the printing press from the next celebrity cook. I'm proud
to say I have quite an extensive library of cookbooks, but the most expensive
of all only cost a few dollars at most.

This recipe produces a pickle that is reminiscent of a bread-and-butter pickle, though
not as sweet. Of course, that may be resolved by simply adding a bit more sugar
to the recipe, your choice.

From the Cooking Light Annual Cookbook from 2008, (it is common courtesy, and
often a matter of copyright, to credit your recipe source) I present to you:


6 cups of pickling cucumbers, sliced thin (or according to your preference)
(This is usually about two pounds)

2 cups of thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt (Kosher, if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon of ground Turmeric (adds great color!)
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (yes, that stuff from the pizza place)
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, sliced very thin, or pushed through a garlic press

Step 2: Gather Your Ingredients...

To reduce clutter, and eliminate the potential to forget an ingredient, or even
to prevent dropping a salt shaker into a bowl of batter below a cabinet, I prefer to gather
all of my ingredients before beginning any recipe.

Many fast-food restaurants offer nifty little plastic cups for carryout condiments.
With a slight touch of inner hoarder, I've collected and saved many of these cups
for just such an occasion as this. Grab a few lids while you're at it, and you can
easily prepare in advance if you are not quite ready to cook.

After measuring out all the spices, grab a few onions, a head of garlic and a bottle
of white vinegar. We're going to make brine!

Step 3: Harvest a Few Pounds of Pickling Cucumbers...

If you don't have a garden full of vegetables, consider visiting
your local farmer's market in search of pickling cucumbers.
Generally, pickling cukes are are shorter, smaller, and often knobby.
Crisp, bright green and white skin is not mandatory, but typical of
this snappy little veggie!

No one is going to judge you for buying cucumbers at the grocery store.
Sometimes it happens.

Step 4: For the Gadget Lovers...

There are a few gadgets in my kitchen (pffft, that is an understatement) 
that I use rather frequently, a mandoline being one of them.

MANDOLINE (note the letter 'e' on the end) - not to be confused with a mandolin, which is a
musical instrument. These are very valuable kitchen tools when you have a lot of thin slices
to make, but are slightly fond of your fingertips.

Typically, a mandoline has an adjustable dial for various thicknesses. This gadget makes
slicing vegetables an absolute breeze!

Step 5: Prep the Veggies...

Cut the ends from each onion, remove the skin, and slice very thin. If you desire super-thin
slices of onion, consider using a mandoline, also known as a slicer.

It is not necessary, or even suggested, that you peel the cucumbers, though you might
consider removing a bit of each end. Though some people don't mind the blossom or end
nubs, I'm not one of them. Using caution, carefully cut the cucumbers into thin slices. Yes, you
may cut them slighter thicker if you wish. It is entirely up to you. Another option is to use a
mandoline if you have one. See step 4 for more detail about mandolines.

After slicing all of the cucumbers and onions, combine them in a large glass bowl in layers
of half the cucumbers (three cups), half the onions, (one cup) and repeat. Remember, you'll
need to have enough room in the bowl for the brine.

Cut the garlic into tiny little slices, though you may also simply send the cloves
through a press if you have one. Set the garlic aside to be added to the brine process in step 6.

By all means, feel free to add other veggies! Only because I did not have any on hand did I
not include various colors of super-thin sliced pimentos, jalapenos, carrots, etc.
They only add to the beauty of your pickles.

Step 6: Create the Brine...

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and all of the following, (and
remaining) ingredients:

3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon of ground Turmeric (adds great color!)
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (yes, that stuff from the pizza place)
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, sliced very thin, or pushed through a garlic press

Stir the brine well, and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for one minute.

Step 7: Pour the Brine Over the Veggies, Mix Well...

After you have removed the brine from the stovetop, pour it over
the onions and cucumbers. Be sure to mix it well. If your brine
doesn't quite cover the cucumbers, you can always put another
glass bowl on top, press down, and wrap the bowls tightly with plastic
wrap to keep the top bowl forcing the cucumbers to be submerged
in the brine.

Allow the mixture to cool, then cover and refrigerate for four days.
Approximate yield is seven cups of pickles.
These pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

If your large glass bowl is taking up as much room as mine did in the
refrigerator, after it has completely cooled, you may transfer the pickles
and brine to a plastic container if you desire.

Step 8: And, of Course, the Nutritional Information...

And what does an image of lettuce have to do with pickles?
Well, nothing, actually, but I needed a picture for the health tab.
Lettuce is green. And green is usually healthy, right?

For label-obsessed foodies, this is yet another wonderful feature of the
Cooking Light books, they tell you what you are eating!

Here is a partial low-down on the pickles you've just made, assuming
you stick to the 1/4 cup serving size:

Calories: 28 (10% from fat)
Fat: 0.1 grams (polyunsaturated)
Protein: 0.3 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams
Fiber: 0.3 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams (yeah!)
Iron: 0.1 milligrams
Sodium: 64 milligrams
Calcium: 7 milligrams