Although our rabbit-eaten radishes were certainly nothing to whoop about this summer, we did have a tricky time keeping up with our cukes. Started too many seeds and neglected to thin the strapping young things—they were so very eager and enterprising, producing a healthy progeny of slicers and picklers. We planted too much. We always do.
The best way to deal with all these cukes is to slice ‘em up and make several batches of pickles. Given this situation, many folks with patience and minimal time constraints would opt to sterilize a case of canning jars and commit to a month-long mouth-watering wait. In the interest of small hungry project managers craving speedy outcomes and post-project snacks, we most often opt for “refrigerator pickles,” or “bread and butter pickles,” or “quick pickles”—we call them Quickles. Make them in the morning, and gobble them up at lunch.
As mentioned before, I do not like to cook. My friend Jenny (who, unlike me, loves to cook and is really good at it), makes a superamazing Detox Soup—promise me you must save at least a few cukes for this recipe. It is superfabuloso. In comparison, Quickle-making is more of a magic trick than a recipe, like when the coy magician’s assistant enters a locked cage and transforms into a savage tiger. Voila! Tangy and sweet with a bit of a bite. Mee-yow!
Your pickles are only going to be as yummy as the produce you start with. Use the freshest pickling cucumbers you can find. If you don’t grow your own, find locally-grown organic cukes. Don’t be afraid to ask the farmer when the cucumbers were picked. You will make the best pickles from cukes that were picked the same day, or, at the very least, within the last 2 to 3 days. You can use any variety of cucumber you fancy, though we prefer using either “pickling” or “lemon” cucumbers.
You can make Quickles with just a few simple ingredients—fresh cukes, vinegar and salt—but a few extras will do wonders. Feel free to experiment: garlic, dill, mustard seed, capers, hot or sweet peppers—branch out on your own. The recipe below is perfect for a 1-quart Mason jar of pickles.
What You’ll Need:
1 ½ pounds (6 cups) pickling cucumbers, trimmed and cut to ¼-inch rounds
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup Diamond kosher salt (don’t use table salt)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar (white or light brown)
Shake of black pepper
Clean, freshly washed 1-quart Mason jar with lid
What You May Want to Add, Just Because You Can:
1 tsp mustard seed
¾ tsp celery seeds
1 cloves garlic, slivered
1 tsp dill seed or chopped fresh dill
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
What You’ll Do:
Place sliced cukes and onions in a colander within a large bowl. Add salt and toss well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Pat cukes dry with a paper towel.
In a large pot, bring vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and spices to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. When sugar has dissolved (about 10 minutes), add cukes and onions. When mixture starts to boil again, remove from heat and cool. Use a slotted spoon to pack the jar with the veggies within an inch of the rim. Pour the warmish vinegar syrup into the jar to ½ inch from the rim. Seal with the lid. Place in the fridge.
Wait a few hours and eat ‘em up. Sometimes they are so very seductive, we eat them all before they are completely chilled.
Quickles will stay fresh in the fridge for about 10 days. The perfect balance of sweet and sour, they are picnic, potato salad, sandwich, and veggie burger champions. In my humble opinion, there is no reason to ever purchase another jar of commercial pickles.