Thank the pickle gods for 48-hour, refrigerator pickles

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by TerraFirma
Garlic dill pickles
Thanks to Misty Brockway for uploading her Garlic dill pickles to our Offbeat Home Flickr pool.

I LOVE pickles. Love them. I love them so much that I have been on a mission for years to find a great pickle recipe that did not include canning.

I was raised in a practical, Midwestern family where nothing was wasted. I've tried to carry on the family tradition of canning and putting up, but my attempts at this were comedy at best. The end result has always been me with a red, sweaty face of frustration, and tears as hours of work went down the drain.

Then I found this crazy easy refrigerator pickle recipe, and all I could do was thank the pickle gods for finally smiling down on me. It is a great way to deal with late summer garden bounty or an abundance of leftover veggie bits.

What you'll need:

Vegetables to pickle
Slice vegetables into smaller pieces. For more dense vegetable, slice, then blanch or steam, until almost cooked but still crunchy. Water-based veggie like cukes, peppers, onion, radish, or tomato will pickle raw. Things like green beans, beets and cauliflower will need to be partially cooked first. Some harder veggies can just be cut up really small, like carrots, which I slice into thin sticks and pickle raw.

Get creative! I love to make traditional garlic dill pickles, but you can pickle just about anything. I have been known to throw all sorts of things into pickle brine. Try cucumbers, onions, sweet or mild peppers, green beans, beets, cabbage, radishes, carrots, or my favorite: green tomatoes.

Pickle containers
You can use whatever you have available, as long as it meets these criteria: glass/plastic, clean, has a sealable lid. I like to reuse old commercial pickle jars for large batches and Mason jars for when I am making pickles to give to others.

How to make it:

Pack your veggies into the jar loosely. You want the brine to be able to move around the pieces freely when you fill it.

Put your seasonings into the jar. Use whatever you want to customize for your tastes. I like to use a combo of: dill seeds, mustard seed, whole peppercorns, coriander seed, hot pepper flakes, or sliced jalepeno for spice, and garlic cloves (peeled, smashed, and left whole).

Pickle brine
Make by combining the following ingredients into a large bowl at room temperature:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ cup of white distilled vinegar
  • ¼ cup of sugar (I use a little less)
  • 2½ tablespoons of sea salt

You will probably have to whisk it together to get the sugar and salt to completely dissolve, but it will.

Pour pickle brine into jar/containers. Make sure brine covers all the vegetables in the jar. Depending on the veggie, some might float to the surface; this is fine.

Screw lid on tightly and give the jar a good shake.

Put it in the refrigerator and forget about it for two days. After 48 hours you have pickles that are delicious and ready to eat. Keep them in the fridge and they'll be good for up to three months. (Mine don't last that long!)

Be sure to experiment with new veggies and flavors. I've recently pickled baby ears of corn with garlic and coriander, and my next pickle is going to be a spicy curry cauliflower.

  1. Yes! This is roughly how I pickle veggies, too, though I tend to make them with the intent of eating them within a week. Good to know that they *should* last longer, though. I really love doing this with kohlrabi, too. If you haven't done it, you should totally try it out! 🙂

    • Oh I love kohlrabi but rarely hear about them here in Ct. My father grows huge kohlrabis every year (I have NO idea how you are supposed to make that word plural) We usually just eat them peeled and sliced raw with salt. Thanks for the new pickle idea!

        • This comment made me snerk in my morning tea. I now have visions of anthropomorphic leafy greens with dark, heavy eye make-up, lurching around and foaming at the mouth (and maybe foamy stuff dripping off the leaves too?).

  2. I've done this, and it's awesome! I used pickling cucumbers, fresh dill, and garlic for some, and then I did jalapenos to another batch. They were so crisp and delicious. The recipe I used didn't have any sugar in it, though.

    • Do you use the whole dill head? Fresh or dry? I purposely grew dill this year so that I could use it in my pickling but am having a hard time separating the seeds from the head once they are dried.

      I added the sugar in order to make the pickle less bitter, I love vinegar but not everyone loves it straight up. I also think the sugar helps with the brining process, but not sure of the science behind it.

      • I just used the little sprigs for fresh dill- no seed heads. Other people might use them, though. What are those little balls sometimes found in pickle jars? I'm not sure if they are peppercorns or dill seeds or something else. I've also used dried dill in the past.

        • Those little balls! Ha! You just made me snort/laugh when I read that.
          Those little balls are probably seeds used in pickling spice. They could be a lot of different things, but most pickling spice has coriander seed, mustard seed, peppercorns, and dill seed. Some also include bay leaf, cinnamon sticks and allspice pods.

  3. You should try carrots & daikon radish, sliced into long sticks, with freshly grated ginger as the spice in your brine base (and possibly a star anise, or some chili flakes, if you are into those sorts of flavours, but I prefer just plain ginger).
    I usually do this the full canning way, but I imagine these flavours would rock in a refrigerator version too.

  4. This looks awesome! I am tempted to try make some gherkins this summer (it's on its way in the southern hemisphere).
    Does anyone know if the sugar is just for taste or is it important to keep it preserved? I would use coconut sugar but I don't know if that would work or not. I might have to google.
    Thanks for the great idea!

    • I added the sugar as a way to mellow out the vinegar's bitterness for the less vinegar-y people in my life. I just use regular 'ol granulated sugar so I don't see why coconut sugar wouldn't work in it's place. The good news is that if it doesn't work out, you can just chuck it try again in 48 hours. 🙂

      • Thanks so much for the explanation, I did google and was still unsure if coconut sugar would work.
        That's a good point 😀

  5. I love this! I've been on a huge pickling kick lately. It all started when our new favorite local restaurant opened and included fresh pickled carrots and jalapenos in their nachos. It was then that I realized: I've been missing pickles in my life.

    I take lots of shortcuts, like buying precut "slaw" mixes and pickling them. When you go beyond cucumbers, you can make some very fancy sandwiches 🙂 Also, the last round I made with peppercorns and a Chilean spice called merqen / merken – you can order it through Amazon, although it looks like they've run out of the sizes I ordered.

  6. I have these in the fridge right now—can't wait to try them on Sunday night! I am obsessed with Penzeys spices and I had bought some "pickling spice" blend with intentions of making pickles, but then I kind of tapped out on the project because I got intimidated by it. But this recipe seemed pretty manageable. Thanks!

  7. I started with garlic dill radishes for my first ever batch tonight. Now I'm standing in my kitchen eating all the olives, pickles, etc out of my fridge so I can use the jars! I might be obsessed already. I'm gonna try spicy zucchini next.

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