First, there were fridge scapes, now we have fridge pickles. I had the privilege of attending a homesteading class offered by my awesome local farmers market. The class was about pickling. Now, I can do canned vinegar pickles. In fact, I overdid them last year. I was that girl who went to her local farmer that sold cukes by the bushel and bought half a bushel. That’s TWENTY POUNDS of cukes. Don’t get me wrong, – they were good, but I started bringing pickles to every potluck – and I felt like taking a class could offer some inspiration for 2011 pickling.
Most canned pickle recipes start with 5% vinegar and never dilute it down by more than half. This leads to a very strong but very safe pickle… and also a pickle that can get pretty boring. You can’t play with them much. But therein lies the beauty of fridge pickles – you do get to play! We had the most amazing cukes in the homesteading class – fresh and crisp – and they had only been pickling for a week! I had never tasted such a fresh, clean and crisp pickle.
Naturally, I had to come home and tinker with it. Here is the result – spicy, savory (umami-y?) while still clean and crunchy. Perfect with grilled food or as a snack. No hot boiling water canner required – these are a must-make.
Asian Fridge Cukes
6-8 kirby or boston pickling cucumbers (as many that fit in a quart jar), ends trimmed and cut into spears
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon red chile flake
1 heaping tablespoon chile garlic paste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Trim the cukes. Toast the sesame seeds, peppercorns, chile flake in the toaster oven or a dry saute pan until fragrant – 3-5 minutes. I then like to add half the flavoring ingredients in the bottom of the jar, then pack in the cukes. I top them with the vinegar, and the other half of the spices, pastes, sauces and oils. Fill the jar to the top with water and wait a week.
*Note: This is NOT a canning safe recipe. I’m sure you could adapt it to one, but some of the ingredients give me pause. Pickling is one place where I am only really comfortable experimenting in the fridge.
1. Change out the white vinegar for rice wine vinegar.
2. Add additional veggies – scallions or onions.
3. Other flavors: ginger, mirin, hoisin sauce? Miso could be interesting.
Other Fridge Pickle Inspiration
1. If you want to stick in the asian pickle vein, AJ at Handjobs for the Home also has an asian pickle recipe - he skins the cukes and adds sugar for a sweet note. Marisa at Food in Jars also makes a version with lime and mint. Yum!
2. Garlic Dill pickles transfer well to the fridge. I use dill weed and dill seed in mine for extra dill goodness.
3. Who says you’re limited to cukes? Lana at Never Enough Thyme makes a gorgeous looking pickle in Weck Jars with halved cherry tomatoes, vidalia onions and sweet peppers. It’s spiked with thyme (of course) – lovely.