Pickles and summer go together like cherries and ice, ice cream and sticky faces, picnics and grass stains; sweet and tangy relish on a hot-off-the grill burger. Crisp dill-infused spears of zucchini use up the inevitable glut of the loved and loathed summer squash. Blushed tangy purple onions kick up the juiciest of tacos. Sweet and sour cherries contrast with creamy cheeses, spread over crackers at a grown-up picnic.
Notice I didn’t even mention little dimpled cucumbers? Usually when the topic of pickles comes up dill or bread and butter seems the most pressing choice, but in our house pickles come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve pickled peaches, onions, cherries, strawberries, prunes, zucchini, fennel, carrots, and peppers. My other standard practice in pickling is to skip the water bath. I stick to small batches and store them in the fridge. Refrigerator pickles come together quickly and are a clever way to use up the bountiful produce available this time of year.
This recipe uses a mix of summer vegetables; zucchini, carrots, and fennel. The spices and herbs can be altered to your desire. In under twenty minutes you’ll have a fridge loaded with fresh pickles. I can’t seem to wait more than a day to start enjoying them, but if you are more patient than I, a few days bathing in the potent brine will do the vegetables well. Use these pickles as a bright summer appetizer, a garnish for bloody marys, alongside a grilled burger, or as a healthful snack. Once you’ve discovered the simplicity and delight of fridge pickles, it’s quite possible there will be room in the refrigerator for little else. Not a bad problem to have, I’d say.
Mixed Vegetable Fridge Pickles Inspired by Bon Appetit, August 2011 Makes 1 quart
2 zucchini 2 carrots 1 fennel bulb (with fronds attached) 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1 teaspoon whole coriander 2 teaspoons fennel seed 2 teaspoons mustard seed ½ teaspoon chili flakes 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided 1 ¼ cup water 2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar ¼ cup sugar
Cut the zucchini into spears that fit the height of the jars you are using. Place the spears in a bowl with ice water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Submerge the zucchini in the water, weighing them down with a plate. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will keep the spears crisp when pickled.
Cut the carrots in the same manner as the zucchini. Slice the fennel in ¼-inch pieces, reserving the fennel fronds. Set vegetables aside. In a saucepan combine the remaining ingredients including the 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a simmer, and then turn off heat.
Place the cut vegetables in clean jars. Add a couple pieces of fennel frond to the jar(s).
Carefully pour the hot brine over the vegetables until submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day. Well sealed refrigerator pickles will keep for 1 month.
Ashley will be answering questions about pickling on the Hotline for those of you who want to take on this project at home. For the quickest response, go to her recipe and ask a question from there -- we'll email her your question right away!
Next week, La Domestique's Jess O'Toole will be joining us to share a little wisdom on making gravlax at home. So start scoping out your neighborhood's best fish markets, and get to work planning your next weekend brunch party!