Pickling is all the rage right now. No, really. Working at a spice shop, I get a pretty good idea about the trends happening in the food world, and I’m telling you, this summer has been all about d.i.y. pickles. Bon Appetit even declared a Pickle Week!
I was a HUGE dill pickle lover as a kid, regularly snacking on them straight out of the jar. And like any proper midwestern household, we had relish tray of pickles and olives present at every special occasion meal. Around those parts, pickling was not a trend to try out; it was what you did every year so that you did not waste the abundance coming from your garden. Being the picky little thing that I was, however, I did not – gasp! – like my grandmother’s homemade pickles. in retrospect, I was weaned mostly on the store-bought variety, so the homemade ones probably were not aggressively flavored enough for the taste that I developed. Having it in my head that I did not like homemade pickles, I don’t recall often trying those from other sources. As I got older this stance relaxed and I expanded my pickle horizons. The house made pickles at Umami burger…awesome. Pickled red onions on my tacos…delicious. I hadn’t even considered trying my own until all of these people started appearing before me in search of pickling supplies.
I shy away from the traditional canning method, mostly because I don’t want to risk killing anyone with my pickles. (botulism, anyone?) Partly because it’s more work. I like the nice and easy refrigerator method, where your work is done as soon as you’ve stuffed everything in the jar. Trying to recreate my beloved aggressively flavored pickles, I added a lot of garlic and a decent amount of heat. They only get hotter the longer they sit, so adjust accordingly if you aren’t a huge fan of heat.
Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Adapted from The Savory Spoonful
Makes 1 quart
5 small cucumbers (I like the Persian ones if you can get your hands on some)
5 stalks of fresh dill
8 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon arbol or habanero flakes
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns
Combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.
Slice cucumbers into thin rounds on a mandoline if you’re lucky, or by hand if you’re not so much.
Arrange the dill stalks around the edges of the jar.
Add all of the spices on top of the cucumbers and garlic.
Pour the liquid mixture over everything and screw the lid on tightly.
Give the jar a good shake to mix everything together, then refrigerate for at least 24 hours before taste-testing.
*The pickles will be good for up to a month, and the flavor will continue to intensify the longer they sit in the refrigerator.
(Courtesy of Bon Appetit, some ideas for that leftover brine: 15 Ways to Use Leftover Pickle Juice)