I found gorgeous, fresh, thin-skinned cucumbers incredibly cheap at a local farm, and immediately thought PICKLES. Love ’em. I lack both the equipment and the patience for canning or fermenting things, so REFRIGERATOR PICKLES. These are quick and simple to make and have a crisper, fresher taste and texture than traditional pickles. They also don’t last as long (2 weeks or so in the fridge), but I can’t imagine them sitting around long enough to spoil.
While perusing recipes, I came across a few that called for up to two cups of sugar. TWO CUPS. First of all, ewww. If nature had intended for veggies to be sweet, she would have made them fruits. Second, that’s so many empty calories. If I’m going to consume that many empty calories, it’s going to be in the form of cake. Or gin rickeys. Mmmm.
An entire cucumber has about 50 calories, and vinegar and spices have virtually none. These pickles are pretty assertive, so if you like yours milder, you can reduce the amount of garlic and spices, or replace some of the vinegar (up to half) with water. You could also add crushed red pepper flakes, chili peppers, turmeric, black peppercorns, sliced onions…anything, really. As far as I can tell, the only rules for pickles are that they must include vinegar and some sort of produce.
Seriously, though, sweet pickles are wicked nasty.
This recipe only makes a pint–mostly because the only glass jar I happen to have is a pint jar–but it’s easily multiplied.
1c white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1tsp mustard seed
1tsp dill seed
1. In a little bitty saucepan, mix everything but the cucumbers. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the salt has dissolved and your kitchen smells like pickles.
2. While the brine simmers, slice the cucumber into ⅛ inch(ish) slices.
3. Layer cucumber slices in a pint jar. This particular cucumber happened to be enormous, so it didn’t quite fit. (Shut up, ya perv)
4. Cool brine slightly, then pour over cucumber. Cover and stick it in the fridge, and ignore it for a few days (at least 2) to pickle.
These pickles are delicious right out of the jar (standing in front of the open fridge late at night, Nigella-style), and even better on a sandwich with leftover roast pork and spicy mustard. You could also batter and fry them, and serve them with ranch dressing and hot sauce, which would be a much tastier waste of calories (ok, yeah, maybe a few more calories) than icky gross sweet pickles.