Your garden is going gangbusters. You’re waist-deep in cucumbers. You’ve pushed them on as many unsuspecting friends and neighbors as you can, but the cucumbers just keep coming.

What to do?

Make refrigerator pickles!

They’re quick and easy – plus, you can skip the sterilization mumbo jumbo of proper canning, the stuff that if done wrong might kill you.

Quick pickles require little more than slicing, mixing, heating, flavoring and refrigerating.

Did we forget eating?

Pick a vegetable, any vegetable:
Cucumbers are a natural, but many other vegetables can also become near-instant pickles. Naturally firm ones work best. Experiment with asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, parsnips, pea pods, radishes and even fresh corn kernels cut from the cob.

Cut the vegetables into pieces – the size is up to you, but keep in mind that smaller pieces will absorb the brine more quickly. To keep the pickles firm, trim away stems and ends.

Prep the brine:
To make enough for 6 pint-size jars, mix the following in a medium-sized saucepan:

3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
3 tablespoons pickling (canning) salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then cool. Pickling salt will ensure the brine won’t turn cloudy nor the pickles darken.

Mix and match:
Mix together herbs and spices to concoct any flavor you desire. But before you get carried away and go tossing in Tic Tacs and frankincense, ruining your first foray into pickles, chew over some tried-and-true flavorings. Each jar should get a total of 2 tablespoons flavorings, fresh and/or dry.

Bay leaves
Celery or cumin seeds
Dill or mustard seeds
Pickling spice
Red pepper flakes

Chili peppers
Dill sprigs
Whole garlic cloves
Sliced habanero or Jalapeño peppers
Sliced horseradish
Sliced onions
Sliced shallots

Fill’er up:
Add your chosen flavorings to each jar, pack in the prepared vegetables and add the cooled brine to within a half-inch of the top of each jar. Seal with a lid. Refrigerate. Wait 2 days for pickle perfection. Eat and crunch.

SOURCES: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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