I’m usually not the person who must have that pickle on the plate – in fact, I’m usually generous about sharing… but I went with a friend to a restaurant called Short Leash.
They are really a food-truck, moved into brick and mortar. Very cool downtown location, hopefully they do well. Well, along with their amazing hot dogs, they served a kind of lightly sweet house-made dill pickle. So I decided it was time for a little experimentation.
I’d never made refrigerator pickles before, but it’s really (really) simple, and takes no time at all. I picked up some pickling cucumbers at the local farm stand. While there, they had a lot of delicious-looking jalapenos as well. I thought – why not? This is the basic recipe, though for my batch, I substituted sliced jalapenos for some of the cucumbers (and doubled the whole thing because apparently I am not capable of judging what 2 lbs looks like). I also added some green bell peppers, since they looked nice and I thought it would taste good. The onions are so terrific that you might want to add more too.
- 2 pounds Kirby (the small Persion cucumbers work very well too) cucumbers, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal (about 8 cups)
- 1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced 1 inch thick
- 2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal
- Coarse salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
The brine is mixed together. I didn’t heat it, but you certainly could – your pickles will end up a bit more like a traditional pickle, rather than a fresh vegetable, so it just depends (in retrospect, I think that’s what Short Leash does). But they will also end up being generally more crisp than a “processed” pickle. And since they will last several months (theoretically – if they last that long) and they are so easy to make, I’m not sure if I’ll ever make that kind again.
The vegetables get sliced and placed in a colander, and then sprinkled with about 1-1/2 t salt (+/-), and allowed to sit and drain for 30-60 minutes. They do not get rinsed. While the vegetables are sitting, you’ll want to prep the jars. Since you will not be sealing the jars and keeping them on the shelf, nothing has to be heated the way you would with regular canning – but your jars, lids and rings should be perfectly clean. I found these 1.5 pint jars – they looked pretty and a nice change from others I already have on hand.
For my first batch, I ended up with way more jalapenos than I thought – so there’s one jar that is mainly jalapenos. To be honest, I’d forgotten how much hotter the jalapenos from this farm are than regular ones from the store. So they were spicy! I had one jar with no jalapenos and added dill, and then the other two had a combination of mainly cucumbers with a few of the other vegetables. Let me just say, they went pretty quickly. I found myself making up excuses to eat them!
I’ve made more, once using some red jalapenos (though fewer of them along with Persian Cucumbers), and another time, I used the final green and sweet 100 tomatoes from the garden (with a less-sweet brine). I was hopeful about the ripe tomatoes, but while good, not a big deal for me.
So, all in all, this was a fun project. and I’ll be making more. These are terrific, and I’m sure would work well with many different vegetables. Plus, I’m sure other brines and vegetables will lead to other great combinations. I still want to experiment more with jalapenos, since they are so good when you make them sweet-hot.