So, what do you do when your CSA haul brings in 12 cucumbers inside of eight days? You reach for the Ball jar. I have saved a few over the years, thinking one day I would try to pickle or preserve some of my veggies. The whole notion of boiling the jars, however, always put me off. It seemed way too labor intensive. I mean, the pickle guy at the Farmers Market uses plastic for goodness sake! Why on earth do I need to boil anything?
I did some research and came across several quick pickling websites. Apparently, all that effort isn’t really necessary. It’s more about how quickly do you plan to eat your picked veggies and how do you plan on storing them. I suppose one of the benefits of NYC and downsizing is that there’s no room to store anything anyhow, so making pickles that were bound to land in the fridge regardless simply reinforced my opinion that the whole boiling of the Ball jars was superfluous.
I made a quick brine with white distilled and apple cider vinegars (two cups of the former to one cup of the latter) along with about 1/4 cup rock salt and one cup water. I lined my jars with spring garlic cloves and fresh dill. I boiled the ciders with the salt, allowing the brine to cool slightly. In the meantime, I chopped my pickles (small jars making this necessary) to spear and chip sizes. I then poured the brine to the brim, closed them up and chucked them in the back of the fridge. By morning, they were ready to eat.
I have only two minor disappointments with my quick pickles. One, they’re a bit soggy, like a traditional store-bought pickle (the whole farmers market pickles I usually buy are crisp, a la a good Russian babushka’s recipe). I’m not sure how to get around this (let the brine fully cool before adding to the pickle jar, perhaps?). Second, the pickles taste, well, like vinegar. If I get another chance, I’ll use more water in the brine and perhaps crush some garlic (the cloves simply aren’t making my pickles flavorful). In addition, the fresh dill isn’t particularly “dilly.” I’m guessing some of this is a matter of time; whereas the vinegar needs only a few hours to soak into the cukes, the garlic and dill – being of the spring and fresh variety, respectively – will need a bit more marinating to fuse with the pickles.
All in all, however, I am pleased with my quick pickles, and hope the lack of boiling doesn’t result in rotten food in a few weeks. Regardless, there was no way we could have eaten all those cucumbers, so I feel good about taking a chance on the pickles since I already had one rotten cucumber I had to compost.