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Quick Homemade Pickles

Capture summertime’s sweet flavors and fragrances with these recipes for quick homemade pickles.

| July/August 2001

  • Sweet pickle slices, bread and butter pickles, and dilled green beans bring home the taste of summer.
  • Sweet pickle slices, bread and butter pickles, and dilled green beans bring home the taste of summer.
    Photography By Paul Bousquet
  • For best results, use the freshest cucumbers possible, pickling salt, and commercial white vinegar of at least 5 percent acidity.
    Photography By Paul Bousquet
  • Dill and garlic add fresh taste to pickled green beans.
    Photography By Paul Bousquet
  • Sweet pickle slices, bread and butter pickles, and dilled green beans bring home the taste of summer.
    Photography By Paul Bousquet

Although modern refrigeration has eliminated the necessity of “putting up” canned goods, it can’t replace the many rewards of home preserving. Not only is it gratifying, but it can be healthful as well. Homemade pickles are free from the chemicals and preservatives found in many of their commercial equivalents. You can choose the freshest organic ingredients and use only sugar and salt for flavor. With herbs and spices you can create unusual flavor combinations not easily found in stores. And best of all, you can give away your creations as inexpensive but heartfelt gifts.

Quick Homemade Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
Sweet Pickles Recipe
Pickled Green Bean Recipe

Technically, any fruit or vegetable preserved in vinegar is considered a pickle. You can “pickle” anything, from apples and peaches to okra and beans. There are several different kinds of pickles, but the most common are either brined or quick processed.

Traditional dilled pickles are brined, which means they are cured or aged in a salty solution that causes fermentation. Although brined pickles are fun to make, they take several weeks and must be monitored closely. For those who lack the time or patience for long recipes, there are fast, easy-to-make “quick pickles,” such as cucumber relish or bread-and-butter pickles. For quick pickles, the fruit or vegetables are usually soaked in a saltwater solution for a few hours, drained, and packed into canning jars. A hot, spicy vinegar solution is poured over them, and the jars are sealed. The longer the pickles sit in the vinegar mixture, the more their flavor increases.

Quick pickles are a very safe method of food preservation. They rely on the highly acidic vinegar to preserve the produce. In fact, they are so safe that some recipes (such as those listed here) can be made as “refrigerator pickles,” in which the finished product is stored in the refrigerator rather than processed in a water bath canner (see “Water Bath Processing” below). The advantage to refrigerator pickles is that you save yourself time. The disadvantage is that the pickles can be stored for only a few weeks under refrigeration, whereas jars processed in a water bath can be stored six months in the pantry. Because the flavor needs one to two weeks to develop, refrigerator storage does not allow much time for you to enjoy the pickle’s full potential.

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