The craving for a pickle is a powerful thing. Sometimes a late-night hunger pang hits, demanding a garlicky dill, or a burger just feels incomplete without the crunch of a few bread-and-butter rounds. While a store-bought jar often answers the call, homemade pickles -- which can be made from not only cucumbers but onions, carrots, beans, and other garden vegetables -- are undeniably superior. But the prospect of canning bushels of them for storage (and all the careful sterilizing and processing involved), then waiting weeks while flavors mature, stops many cooks before they begin.
Happily, there is a simpler way: Make refrigerator pickles like Dill-Pickle Chips and Pickled Zucchini Ribbons, which don't require canning. You can start eating them in about a week -- and they'll keep for several more. Choose firm, unblemished vegetables from the garden or farmers' market, and bathe them in a brine made with the freshest herbs and spices available. Then keep these snacks in the refrigerator to munch on whenever the mood strikes.
These ingredients are commonly found in pickle recipes. Each one is rather assertive -- strong enough to stand up to the acid in the pickling brine and penetrate the vegetables with its unique flavor. For best results, always follow proportions called for in the recipes.
1. Dry mustard
2. Dill seed and garlic cloves
3. From left: cumin seeds, celery seed (in bowl), and mustard seed
4. Whole black peppercorns
6. Coriander seeds
7. Lemon peel, cinnamon stick, dried chile, bay leaf, cloves, dried chile flakes, and whole allspice
Here is video instruction on how to turn summer's fresh vegetables into Fast Homemade Pickles! Whatever recipe it is you decide to go with, here are a few quick tips on something of the more popular pickling vegetables.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. Arrange 4 small cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick, on sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cover with a second layer of paper towels. Let stand 15 minutes, then pat dry.
Green or Wax Beans
Remove stem ends from 1 pound green or wax beans.
Soak 10 ounces pearl onions in ice water for 10 minutes. Using a paring knife, trim and peel onions.
Trim and cut off fronds from 2 fennel bulbs. Cut bulbs lengthwise through core into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Trim and cut 1 head cauliflower into florets.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wrap beets in parchment-lined foil. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, then rub off skins; discard. Cut beets into 3/4-inch-thick wedges, and divide evenly among jars.
Peel baby carrots, leaving whole. Bring to a boil in liquid. Then transfer to jars.