Pickling! Everyone’s gone mad for pickling! There are pickling workshops, pickling videos, pickling clubs. This is great news for people like me who have a salt tooth rather than a sweet tooth, but the truth is I find the process daunting. Thank goodness there’s a short-cut: bread-and-butter pickles that go in the fridge. Use Kirby cucumbers from the farmers’ market (a catchall name for cucumbers about 3 to 6 inches in length that have nubby skins, dense flesh, and small seeds), not tiny pickling cucumbers. I made a batch of pickles from Meredith Brokaw’s endlessly fun book, Big Sky Cooking. Meredith is a Tuesday Recipe subscriber and a wonderful cook. She says that this recipe came from her husband’s mother and that they last a good 2 weeks in the fridge, but they’re always eaten faster than that. Which is exactly what happened in my house.
5 Kirby cucumbers (about 5 inches each; 1-1/4 lb total)
1 cup sliced white onion
2 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 rounded tablespoon kosher salt (see note)
3 to 4 dried chiles de arbol, optional
Wash and dry four 8-ounce mason jars with lids. You don’t have to sterilize them.
Slice the cucumbers into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (Meredith calls for 1-inch rounds, but I cut mine a little thinner). In a large bowl, stir together the cucumbers, onion, sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, and salt. Transfer the mixture evenly to the jars; you may only fill 3 of the jars, or only partially fill one of them. If you like a touch of heat in your pickles (which I do), tuck a dried chile in each jar. Screw on lids.
Refrigerate the jars for 2 to 3 days until the pickles are ready (they will shrink and taste sweet-sour-briny). Fork out pickles and onions to use as needed. Pickles will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long, as Meredith says).
note : Meredith calls for 1 T pickling salt, which is an additive-free salt. But it’s hard to find in most stores. Kosher salt works perfectly as an alternative (use just a touch more by rounding your tablespoon). Don’t use iodized salt however; it will turn the pickles muddy.