In a Pickle with a New Book!


I’m not really in too much of a pickle. I just love that title. But I am anxious to share a recipe from my new book, Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking, which will be released on Sunday, October 2.

The tiny pickle I’m in is that I have been so busy getting ready for the book launch—and plugging away at my many part-time jobs—that I haven’t had time to put away much produce this summer.

I have made a grand total of 1-1/2 cups of jam! And until recently I had made zero pickles. I didn’t have the time or the patience to make actual processed pickles.

Fortunately, I can always throw together a jar of refrigerator pickles, and I did. I was introduced to these quick-to-assemble savory treats years ago by Ivy Palmer, who ran the Shelburne Falls Farmers Market. Refrigerator pickles don’t last for months on end the way regular pickles do. They do offer genuine pickle flavor … and nearly instant gratification.

Many of the pickle recipes in my repertoire require the cook and her/his family to wait six weeks or more to break into a jar of pickles. In contrast, if made with small bits of produce, refrigerator pickles may be eaten in three days. That’s about as instant as gratification can get in the pickle world.

I generally make dill refrigerator pickles with cucumber. As fall advances, however, I’m considering expanding my repertoire to include carrots and cauliflower … maybe even Brussels sprouts. As long as I cut them into small pieces, these veggies should lend themselves nicely to quick pickling.

Readers who are busy canning right now: I salute you! The recipe below is for those who, like me, aren’t going to get around to canning their own pickles this season. You don’t even have to have a garden to make these. My cucumbers came from Butynski Farm in Greenfield. I looked for firm, deep-green pickling cukes there. Cucumbers that have started to turn yellow or white make less crunchy pickles.

I even purchased my dill at Butynski’s because the dill in my herb garden had wilted in this summer’s dry heat. And my cider vinegar came from Apex Orchards in Shelburne.

Enjoy your pickles. And if you enjoy this blog, please consider supporting me by ordering Pot Luck. A list of my upcoming appearances may be found on my website. The book will also be available near me at Apex Orchards, Boswell’s Books, the Historic Deerfield Museum Store, and the World Eye Bookshop—and a little farther afield at the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene and the Williams Bookstore in Williamstown.

You may also order it from my website. It is available on Amazon.com as well, but it’s a little more expensive there.

Happy reading … and happy eating!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

3 to 5 pickling cucumbers (depending on size)
3 tablespoons pickling salt, sea salt, or kosher salt (but not iodized table salt)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 head dill plus as many dill leaves as you like
1 clove garlic
3 black peppercorns

Instructions:

Cut your cucumbers into spears or slices, as desired. I prefer slices; they are easiest to stuff into a jar. Left whole, the cucumbers will take a long time to pickle in the fridge so cutting in some fashion is a must.

To increase the crunchiness, place the cut cucumbers in layers in a colander over the sink. Sprinkle each later with salt—about 2 tablespoons total—and let them sit for 2 hours. This drains out much of the water in the cucumbers. Rinse them, place them in a clean dishcloth, and gently squeeze out the excess moisture.

Prepare a quart jar with a lid by running it through the dishwasher or washing it in very hot, soapy water and letting it air dry. Any jar with a lid will do; the wider the opening, the easier your work will be.

Place the dill in the bottom of your jar, peel and lightly crush the garlic clove, and drop it in along with the peppercorns. Put in the cut cucumbers. If you have leftover pieces of salted cucumber, use them in a salad or a sandwich.

Mix the remaining tablespoon of salt, the vinegar, and the water in a saucepan, and bring them to a boil. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes; then pour it over the cucumbers, filling the jar right to the top.

The pickles will be ready to eat in three days and should be eaten within a month. (I have been known to stretch them out for more than a month.) Makes 1 quart.

Watch me make them!

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