Recipe: Refrigerator pickles can even conquer zucchini

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Sweet, crunchy – healthy? Whoa, that can’t be right. But pickles help us eat our veggies.

Zucchini was ruined for me when I was 10. My family, with five children, was just getting by in the wilds of Western New York. We knew a farm family that kindly gave us vegetables they couldn’t sell. Misshapen but sound tomatoes, cantaloupes with a little soft spot, and zucchini the size of traffic cones.

My mother tried, pureeing it into zucchini bread. But her children turned up their noses at zucchini slabs boiled soft in tomato sauce and clamored against zucchini soup. We spent hours that summer combing the black raspberry brambles in the backyard, so there was always dessert.

Now I know how to deal with those scaly green monsters: Cut out their hearts. Dunk chunked squash into a garlicky brine, spiced as you desire. Wait three days.

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Zucchini, green and yellow beans, red and white onions, cucumbers, turnips and chiles – there’s your low-budget, lowfat appetizer spread redefined.

Pickles. Crunchy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet refrigerator pickles. Not just zucchini, either – cucumbers, radishes, green and yellow stringbeans, cauliflower, carrots, onions, sweet and spicy peppers can all do with a proper pickling.

Pickles preserve vegetables, and canning pickles, boiling the jars, can preserve them for years. Refrigerator pickles let you skip the boiling, but they’re not going to last much more than a month. Of course, if you have pickle eaters in your house, they’ll never live that long.

Gather up your vegetables, herbs like thyme and dill, and your pickling spices. Make your brine and wait. The crunchy, tangy results ought to satisfy any sourpuss.

Recipe: Refrigerator Pickles
(Inspired by “Dinosaur Barbecue”)

Pickle brine recipe:

4 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
6 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup or more pickling spice (or mix your own from mustard seeds, bay leaves, allspice, black pepper, dill seed, cloves, coriander and cinnamon)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh herbs like dill and thyme, chopped or sprigs (optional)

Add the salt and sugar to the vinegar and water in a non-aluminum bowl, and mix to dissolve. Add spices, garlic and herbs, if using. Pour over chopped vegetables in a big jar or bowl that will fit, covered, in your refrigerator. After three days start serving the pickles, and adding new vegetables to the pickle vat.

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Turnips and thyme, or however you write your pickle recipe, there’s room for every taste.

6 Comments

Filed under appetizers, recipes, vegan, vegetables, video

6 responses to “Recipe: Refrigerator pickles can even conquer zucchini

  1. This sounds excellent! Definitely going to give this a whirl. With the garden ready to burst at any moment, we might even have to break out the canning pot and save some of this for a midwinter treat.

  2. The Wife

    A little amendment to this story: The pickles that we have made from the Dinosaur BBQ cookbook have lasted well over a month in the back of our refrigerator without any problem. We’ve pulled them out in freezing February and they’ve tasted quite fine. I’m guessing Andrew’s recipe would work the same.

  3. That Dinosaur BBQ cookbook is a cool one.
    I never thought about pickling turnips. I get them in my CSA bag and never knew what to do with them. Maybe that’s my solution…

  4. Pickles could never last even a month at our house.. too many pickle lovers! Thanks for the post

  5. Pingback: Anneli Rufus: Couscous Cake, Cashew Parfait: Comfort Food, Macrobioticized | WestPenn Journal

  6. Thanks for this! I read this post and HAD to try it. I’ve been looking for a good recipe for a while but all the refrigerator ones I kept finding were for sweet pickles or required cooking the veggies or some other odd thing. My pickles are in the fridge now and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. :)

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