Spicy refrigerator dill pickles (recipe)
My house always looks ridiculous this time of year, like a farmers market exploded in our living areas. I feel somewhat like a produce hoarder. The dining room table is covered with round, red tomatoes ripening on sheets of newspaper. There are cucumbers marching along the bookshelves. Piles of green beans, stacks of fresh corn, rows of peaches. Canning jars in every corner. Peppers in boxes. Boxes on counters. Counters are buried.
There is such an abundance of beautiful produce in the Pacific Northwest during August and September and October. It is like the Olympics of food preservation. Late nights, long hours. I’ve got my eye on the prize: a pantry packed with full jars and a freezer stuffed with good things to eat all winter long. We’ll get there. Even if we have to eat dinner huddled around the coffee table for a few weeks.
The cucumbers were posing the biggest problem, if you can call it that. Dozens and dozens of cucumbers were coming from the vines in our raised beds. We were eating them and juicing them and dropping them off in bags to unsuspecting friends. We still couldn’t keep up with production. So I called my sister, who has similar hoarding issues (it’s a family thing). She had just made these refrigerator pickles from Food & Wine. Perfect.
I picked up dill, the one ingredient I was missing. You can buy it at farmers markets or grocery stores. It’ll just look like a big weed sprouting out of your shopping bag. While I was there, I also grabbed some green beans, cauliflower, and asparagus. Never mind that this just made my produce problem worse. I don’t do much of anything in moderation; logic often isn’t involved. If I was going to pickle something, I was going to get serious about it. Four somethings.
It actually is kind of addicting. You stuff vegetables in jars, shake up the brine, pour it over, tuck in some dill and peppers. Then stick the jars in the fridge. You don’t need special equipment; you don’t have to turn on the oven. The pickled vegetables are crisp, packed with flavor and a pleasant kick. Better yet, they improve with time; the vegetables are good for a month stored in the refrigerator. I’ve been setting out a jar with dinner, packing one on picnics. They are seriously delicious.
This refrigerator pickle recipe is a guide. Feel free to play around with the ingredient list to suit your own tastes. It’s nice because you are working with manageable portions, 2 jars of vegetables at a time. Here are some of the vegetable options, with the full recipe below.
For each 1-quart jar, use 12 ounces of vegetables.
Asparagus, blanched 1 minute and cooled
Broccoli florets, peeled and cut into sticks
Carrot sticks, blanched 2 minutes and cooled
Cauliflower florets, blanched 1 minute and cooled
Green beans, steamed 2 minutes and cooled
Cucumbers, quartered or thinly sliced
Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe
24 oz. vegetables (see list above)
3 T. salt
2 T. sugar
1 1/4 c. white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 T. coriander seeds (I used a combination of peppercorns, cumin seed, and mustard seed)
6 large garlic cloves, halved
2 c. water
3-4 long red or green hot peppers, halved lengthwise
6-8 dill sprigs
- Pack vegetables into 2 clean 1-quart glass jars (wide mouth are easiest to fill).
- In a third jar, combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, coriander, and garlic. Shake until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 2 cups of water and pour the brine over the vegetables. Tuck the peppers and dill between the vegetables. Add enough water to keep the vegetables submerged.
- Place lids on the jars and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month.
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, fresh flavors for the modern pantry by Liana Krissoff (Amazon) is at the top of my wish list.
“When I was growing up, canning was for old folks and cranks and separatists,” writes Liana Krissoff in her introduction to Canning for a New Generation. But not anymore. With soaring food prices and the increasing popularity of all things domestic and DIY, there’s never been a better time to revisit the centuries-old techniques of preserving food at home.
This hip, modern handbook is filled with fresh and new ways to preserve nature’s bounty throughout the year. Organized by season and illustrated with beautiful photographs, it offers detailed instructions and recipes for making more than 150 canned, pickled, dried, and frozen foods, as well as 50 inventive recipes for dishes using these foods. Basic information on canning techniques and lively sidebars round out this refreshing take on a classic cooking tradition.” (Amazon)
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