Refrigerator Pickles

Wow. Nothing makes folks line up like a free anything, really smokes ’em out of the dark corners. Where have all you people been? I have to give you something (besides wise ass mama wisdom) for you to make yourselves known? Note to new commenters: stick around. Don’t be a stranger.

So far 24 of you poor sops have lined up with your cute little ‘pick me, pick me’ stories. Lucky for you, Harriet Fasenfest is a terrible capitalist. The whole point here was to promote her dvd so that you people would go out and buy it. As in, spend your hard earned money on it and make the world go round. But she left a note in amongst the pleas, err– comments, that she would donate 10 dvds to the greater cause of Getting Folks into the Preserving Kitchen.

Harriet. You need to go watch some F*x News. Money, and the exchange of it in a competitive capitalist system, is what is going to save us from economic catastrophe. Are you trying to sabotage America? Go now, do your due penance.

I thought I’d leave the comments open on the giveaway for a few more days, in case there are some worthy mamas too busy wiping noses, asses and floors to check in here.

In the meantime, since you all seem to be clamoring for some spark in the preserving department, I thought we’d do a little excercise. Refrigerator pickles. Just about the easiest preserving project I can think of, and a good gateway drug.

Not to taunt anyone, but summer is here in New Orleans– the cucumbers I planted along the front fence at our new fantabulous house are starting to come on. I’m so excited! The 3YO is a pickle fiend, and so naturally I planted a pickling variety of cukes. But don’t be put off, you can pickle any kind cucumber or any other vegetable for that matter.

Eventually you’ll learn how to make pickles fermented the old fashioned way or canned with vinegar. But for a first timer, refrigerator pickles are the easiest of all. There is nothing whatsoever to fear. You can make a single jar if you just want to test your meddle. No sterilization is required. The results are pretty predictable. This is basically just like marinated cucumbers, and they last for months.

So. You. Print this page out. Go buy some thin skinned cucumbers, or asparagus or whatever your fave pickled veg is (brussel sprouts anyone?) and a big jug of apple cider or plain white vinegar. Find a jar with a lid in your cupboard, any old jar. Maybe two.

Cut your cukes however you like, I do lengthwise quarters. Pack them, cold and raw, into your jar. Peel two cloves of garlic and throw those in along with some fresh or dried dill weed and pickling spices if you have them. Boil 1 cup vinegar, 3 cups water and 1/4 cup non-iodized salt and pour over cukes.

That’s it.

Seriously!

You can taste one after a few days if you want, no harm, except that they don’t taste like much right away. They’re overly salty and not sour enough. I suspect some small fermentation is happening because they get sourer over the next month or so.

There! You’ve made pickles! See? Thus emboldened, aren’t you ready to take over the world?

There were a few comments about fermenting, so I feel compelled to offer what I think is an essential piece of advice. I haven’t done all that much fermenting, but sometimes beginners give the best beginner advice. So here it is– Taste your ferment every single day, no cheating. Ferments are living things, constantly growing through their own lifecycle. My beloved Sandor Katz might like his sauerkraut at every age, but it took me some failures to find out that I myself only like it fresh out of high school. Bright, slightly tart, perky, thinking it knows everything. The window is narrow, and if I don’t taste my kraut every day, or even twice a day, I’ll miss it. Once it gets ripely satisfied with life, and humbles down to a softer, skunkier flavor, I just don’t like it anymore. Another day or two in this heat and it’s a disgusting mess. Fermenting is easy, getting the flavor you want out of your ferment is a bit trickier. Timing is everything!

As far as canning, I’ve done it all. I even wrote a two part zine article on it, back in the day. I wrote a post on canning jam the super easy way on my last blog Subsist/Resist. Apart from figs and tomatoes, there’s nothing to worry about when canning fruit. The worst that can happen is you lose a jar to mold. Really. Go fuck around. Have fun. You can break a lot of the rules if you want, so long as you’re canning fruit and don’t mind risking a botched jar. But if you follow the rules, you’ll definitely be fine.

Pressure canning is certainly more complicated, and important to get right. But those things are gold! If you have one, the world is your oyster. Low acid foods are not the place to wing it, but follow the instructions and you’ll be completely safe. Believe me, the USDA has made sure the rules cover all levels of intelligence. If you have any questions, ask me! Really! Email me at scarletfevir (at) yahoo. If I had my pressure cooker here in New Orleans I’d do a big post about it.

Culinate has a more thorough refrigerator pickle recipe, if you want more details. Non-iodized salt is easy to get at any grocery store. Pickling salt, kosher salt or sea salt are all good. Though there are some iodized sea salts. It will say right on the label, no tricks. Pickling spices too are easy to find in any spice section.

Cut! Boil! Pour! Refrigerate! Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Refrigerator Pickles

  1. Yeah, but once they reach the “right taste” what do you do? Seal ’em? Eat ’em? How do you stop the pickling process once it’s begun?!?! (I’m stressing out over pickles over here…)

  2. First, a disclaimer. I’m kinda loaded and feeling a bit militant (sabotage America???). So excuse the following rant.

    ……It is in fact a huge failing of mine that I consider the entire monetary system a tale of human disempowerment. I acknowledge, though, that thousands of years of invasions, genocide, pillage and resource depletion does not lie — humans like shit and go to great lengths to get it. Furthermore, we are all in the sticky stinky soup now so what else do we have? Hmmmmm, good question. I put that to your sobbing public. What else?

    But, to the extent I take my dvd as shitless, I stand proudly outside the fold. Sure, were the freak’n pillage reeker less tenacious (are we not all serfs now?), I’d take the hooch and plenty of it. I mean I love Paris fashions as much as the next one. Probably more. But generally speaking, I hate the hold it has on us and the planet and much prefer the illusion of being free. Forgive me.

    But more honestly, I’m only talking ten dvds so what’s the big woop there? And I do believe an awful lot of good would come if folks learned not only how to preserve but to provision in a way that would put the least amount of hurt on the planet. This is no joke time. We are all well advised to discover a better way of going about accessing our goods and services. I do mean no joke time.

    Yes, I am preaching now and no one asked but I did offer that disclaimer did I not? Still, a case must be made that if we are to get on with the movement (it is a movement is it not?) then we better get on with it.

    You’re right though. Pickling is easy and if you like pickles make them. If you don’t, don’t. Our time is precious which is a very, very important thing to think about (do you not speak of it enough Strynz?).

    Provisioning is about buying basics in bulk. It is perfect for the urban dwelling radical yada, yada but it takes some thinking. But if you buy meat, grains, beans, nuts, storage onions and oil in bulk and grow (or buy) storage potatoes, carrots, kale, garlic and herbs and buy or raise chickens for eggs and milk for drinking and fermentation (yogurt and soft cheeses) you will have a million meals for the year.

    Yeah, making pickles, 20 jars of canned tomatoes, 20 jars of applesauce, ten jars of jam, 3 pounds each of dried apples and pears and picking 10 pounds of blueberries to freeze for pancakes and baking will work very nicely to fill out the pantry. At least it will be a start. Following that game plan will be a very good start indeed. Don’t get all fancy on us. Just get the stuff in a jar and be happy.

    So preserving and provisioning. Those are the key words.
    But start with pickles if you like them though. By all means, start with pickles.

    Yep, I want folks to get busy. Ten dvds indeed. No big woop.

  3. Trish…..

    You just store them in the fridge. Don’t worry about a thing. There is no process to stop. It is just fine and safe. Keep them in the fridge and they will taste all the more better with time.

  4. Mmmmmm… fresh kraut! That is why I want to learn to make it. I grew up with the skunky canned stuff. I thought I liked it ok until I actually tried it fresh. Oh. my. I am now totally addicted. SUCH a difference. Sooooo good.

    I have the same question as Trish – once you get it to the yum point, how do you stop it from passing it?

    And I thought a pressure cooker and pressure canner were two different things. I have a pressure cooker. Could I have been learning to pressure-can all this time?!?

  5. I love the “don’t get all fancy on us. Just get the stuff in the jar and be happy”. That is me…I do the same recipes year after year because they are what my family want. I am happy, they are happy. Well almost totally happy…I still need to figure out the pressure canner and I want to make my own sauerkraut.

  6. I have some refrigerator pickles rocking in my frige right now!! I made pickles with the radishes I have in abundance.
    My favorite veg for a good frige pickle is the humble beet! I roast’em to soften and peel and then slice into disks or chunks and add a similar brine. They last forever, and taste great in salads, especially when combined with blue cheese and walnuts.
    My garden won’t have cucumbers ready to pick for another month but we are going to start swimming in wax beans, which the hubs likes best pickled. If you cram a bunch of dill into the jar with your beans you get what my mom refers to as Dilly Beans.
    Thanks for the thoughts on fermenting!

  7. I love my pressure canner. Inherited from my aunt, I’ve canned tomatoes and chutneys with it. I haven’t had cause to can meat yet, but someday. I’m wanting to learn cheese making and sauerkraut soon. I did use my pressure canner to cook about 15 lbs of donated mutton into a masala for Delivery Day at the Co-op that I work for. It worked great and the mutton melted in the mouth.

  8. ah, I LOVE preserving. We actually just bought a big freezer, so now we are doing frozen veges and the like, but the best part of looking in my pantry is seeing the jars of preserves. I love, love, love it. I have been spending some time lately though wondering about canning beans dried beans and chickpeas. I know it’s easy to make from scratch, but just sometimes when I’m feeling lazy I like to be able to open up a can, but I try to be as waste free as possible in my household, so “miss queen of preserving” you may have my answer…….. what is the best way to preserve dried legumes if you don’t have a pressure canner? (I do have a Fowlers Vacola preserving kit – picked up brand new for $5.00 at a grage sale including the original 4 jars!! Sorry, I just couldn’t help telling you about that).
    Thanks for the pickles tip too. I’m looking forward to giving it a go.
    BTW – I don’t want the DVD, but I had to post a comment anyway, so maybe it’s just that you have found a topic that touches lots of people?

    1. you need a pressure canner to preserving beans, it’s not safe any other way… although I guess you could pickle them? don’t know if that would be any good. i say, if you love preserving, buy a pressure canner. a good one is over a hundred bucks, but will pretty much last a lifetime and you can can beans (so easy!) as well as meat, fish, veg and homemade soups. i heart my pressure canner.
      you must be in Australia? we don’t have this Fowlers Vacola thingy that you Aussies are always on about. sounds fabulous but i suspect it didn’t cut America’s litigation-paranoid muster.

  9. mmm, I thought you might say that (about the pressure canner). I think I might just try the freezer – not sure my kitchen can withstand another appliance.
    Yep, I’m in Australia and yep, we love the fowlers vacola. It’s just a big bath for jars really – one of those appliances that really you could just use a pot on the stove, but this makes it so much easier and convenient.
    Thanks for the fast reply.
    Now, I’m off to poke around your wonderful blog. Thanks for so much wisdom and fun. I loved your martyr in the kitchen post. had me giggling for days and I still smile to myself everytime I put dinner on the table and wait for the “oh wow, this looks great. Thanks”. What a sucker!

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