When your child asks for a vegetable, you don’t say no. So when my 4-year-old begged to buy a crate of pickling cucumbers at the farmers market, I quickly caved. We headed home high on pioneer spirit, immediately washed our cukes, then left them gleaming and warty in the colander while we picked a recipe. (There are hundreds of recipes out there.) We settled on one that called for red sweet peppers because we’ve had a glut in the garden this year. (Killing two vegetables with one recipe is always a good thing.)
Refrigerator pickles, it turns out, are ridiculously simple. You boil whole spices or herbs in a combo of vinegar, salt and sugar, then pour the brine over sliced or quartered cucumbers in jars. Let them cool slightly, then pop them in the fridge to, well, pickle for a day or two. Since they aren’t properly canned, they have to be refrigerated and won’t keep forever. But we found that homemade pickles don’t languish in the fridge door like purchased ones. We brought the jar out to the table most nights and munched pickles alongside grilled chicken, rice and beans, salmon, and, of course, burgers.
Our first batch was a sweet bread-and-butter pickle with a warm allspice flavor; our second, pictured above, was a dill spear. But I think you could experiment a lot. Want more bite? Throw a couple peeled garlic cloves in the the jar. Spicy kick? Put a halved jalapeño in the jar. So before summer slips away entirely, stock up on the season's last pickling cucumbers, and tell us what you make in the comments below!