On this blog I’ve worked through most of the basic techniques and processes related to cooking and food prep: I’ve turned flour and water into bread with the help of yeast, I’ve harnessed enzymes to make cheese, and bacteria to make yogurt, I’ve preserved, whipped, frothed, churned, infused, extracted, fermented, dehydrated, foraged, emulsified, and jellied, but, until today, I’ve never actually pickled anything.
Refrigerator pickles don’t require sterilization, so they’re a good first pickling project. All you really need to do is heat the vinegar, salt and sugar until the solids dissolve, then add spices, pour the mixture over the cucumbers, seal and refrigerate. You can eat them as soon as they’re chilled!
I put together an especially spicy pickling mix, with whole spices and hot peppers. Since these are quick pickles, I beefed up the flavorings to make up for the short marinating time. Toasting the whole spices first deepens their flavor. I don’t strain them out, because I want them to keep flavoring the pickles as they sit in the jar.
You want to find small, unwaxed cucumbers. sometimes called pickling, or Kirby cucumbers. They are generally smaller, have thinner skin and fewer seeds. If you want to use ready made pickling spice, use about 3 tablespoons in place of the whole spices. Use wide mouth jars to make it easy to get your pickles in and out, I used Kerr wide mouth pint jars for this project.
- about 8 small pickling cucumbers
- 2 fresh Serrano chili peppers, thinly sliced, seeds and all.
- fresh tarragon sprigs
- 2 bay leaves (fresh if you can find them)
- 2 cups white or white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 Tbsp rainbow pepper corns
- 1 tsp allspice berries
- 1 tsp whole coriander
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 6 cardamom pods
- Cut off the stem end of your cucumbers so that they fit inside your jars, with their tips ending just below the rim. Cut them lengthwise into quarters. Fit the cucumber spears tightly in the jars, with a couple of sprigs of tarragon, the bay leaves, and the Serrano pepper slices fitted in between the spaces.
- Put the spices in a dry pan and toast over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan often. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Heat to a simmer, then turn off the heat and add the spices. Let cool.
- Pour the liquid into the jars, filling to cover the cucumber spears. Make sure the spices get into the jars as well.
- Cap the jars and refrigerate. You can eat them right away, but they will be more flavorful the next day. They will keep a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Have a great week!