Jun 18, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles (or the Attack of the Mutant Greenies)

I remember a chilly day back in January when my garden was nothing more than a sketch in my mind. Snuggling up with a pile of seed catalogs, I highlighted and made lists and dog-eared the pages, planning the bounty to come. I remember a chilly day back in January when it seemed like planting four plants each of four varieties of cucumbers in a 4X4 foot garden bed seemed like a good idea.

To be fair, it would have worked swimmingly if I had trellised them right away. Instead, I fell victim to planting and ignoring. The cucumbers held nightly meetings together under the warm Georgia sky. They drank beer and made posters. They organized. And they attacked. Advance troops were immediately sent out to explore the rest of the battlefield (i.e. the other garden beds). They seized unsuspecting peppers and eggplants and held them captive in their deathly grip. They claimed for themselves any as-yet-unused garden space. They began birthing green fruit at a Body Snatchers-like pace. They were a sinister force to be reckoned with.

If the tomatoes were ripe, this would not have been an issue. The whole family can eat Greek salad three times a day every day. But, so far, the garden is only yielding cucumbers (plus one early okra pod that survived the cucumber invasion). It was time to execute a pickle strategy.

Only one of the four varieties was a pickle-style cucumber (Boston Pickling). However, it was the one producing the most offspring so I had a gathering collection of these miniature cukes. The volume wasn't enough yet to spend a day in the kitchen canning dill pickles, so I decided to try the much easier refrigerator pickles. They should last up to six months in the fridge but likely won't last that long in this house! Here's the recipe:

(per quart)

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt (don't use iodized salt!)
1 large head dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed)
2 cloves fresh garlic (smashed)

Boil water, vinegars, and salt in a pot over medium-high heat until salt is dissolved. Allow to cool. Add garlic and dill to jar, then fill with cucumbers up to 1 inch from the top rim. You can use tiny whole cucumbers, slices, or spears. Whole cucumbers will take longer to absorb the brine. Pour cooled brine over cucumbers to within one half inch of top rim. Seal tightly and keep in refrigerator for at least seven days before using. Shake every few days to distribute dill and garlic.

Later in the season (if the cucumbers don't take me out), I will make my grandmother's tried and true canned dill pickle recipe to last us for the whole winter. I will make a last-minute attempt to get the cucumbers vertical but I'm preparing for their resistance to being governed. ~


Linda St.Cyr said...

Ha! Ha! I love your description of the cucumber invasion. I'm still sad that a bunny ate all my seedlings. Thanks for the recipe. I'm determined to get cucumbers to grow so I can make pickles for the kids.