The Milkweed Diaries

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Refrigerator pickles

We planted Edmonson and Japanese Long cucumbers and are now experiencing massive cucumber overload.

I'm brine pickling some cucumbers whole, but in an effort to keep up with the pace of production, I made a giant batch of "refrigerator pickles" too (ingredients shown above).

My refrigerator pickles are loosely based on Mollie Katzen's Wilted Cucumber Salad recipe, which has been a summer favorite of mine for years. Here's her recipe, from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest:

Wilted Cucumber Salad

Make this a day ahead so the cucumbers can fully absorb their marinade. This keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more.

2/3 cup vinegar (wine or cider)

1/3 cup water

4 Tbs. honey or sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

4 medium-sized cukes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

fresh black pepper to taste

2 Tbs. minced fresh dill

Combine the vinegar, water, honey or sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat just to the boiling point, then remove from heat. Place the onion and cucumber slices in a medium-large bowl, and add the hot liquid. Cool to room temp, add pepper and dill. Transfer to a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Chill until cold.

I like to add a fair amount of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley to this mix, and I use considerably less honey (about half of what Mollie calls for) and NO sugar! I'm not categorically opposed to sugar, but honey tastes a lot better in this recipe to me.

For this batch I increased the volume of everything but the sweetener in this by about 6 times, and threw in a bunch of fresh dill flowers and leaves.

Here's the finished product -- just shy of 5 quarts of refrigerator pickles. We'll eat some tonight with friends along with a bunch of other summer salads.

Making these is a warm reminder of my gratitude to Mollie Katzen, who was a huge part of my food education. I cooked from her classic vegetarian cookbooks all through high school and college and into my "grown up" years.... She introduced me to Swiss Chard, helped me survive as a teenage vegetarian in the sticks, and made me feel like I was part of a community that cared about food for years before I actually experienced that community in person.

I hardly ever use recipes any more, and if I do, I can't help but modify them (add parsley, decrease honey) but I still keep the old Moosewoods around as reference books, right beside "The Joy" in every kitchen I've ever established over the past dozen years. Thanks Mollie!


joseph said...

I like reading that someone out there still holds affection for Molly Katzen. Moosewood and the Enchanted Broccoli Forest were fundamental for me in my high school years as well, and I feel like she sometimes gets put aside as fuddy-duddy or too seventies or something... I don't reference her often these days, but I still regularly make a sauce for steamed vegetables based on her almond butter-miso sauce (maybe from Still Life with Menu or Enchanted Broccoli?)

Dana said...

Hey Beth. Your pictures are making me hungry. Everything looks so good and abundant, and clearly you have been working it in the kitchen. I haven't done any food preserving projects this year (other than herbs, of course) but I have been making a concerted effort to cook more. Yesterday I fixed a cold cucumber yogurt soup, which I would highly recommend for you too. All it had was yogurt, grated cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, white vinegar, fresh mint, and I substituted parsley and basil for the dill t called for. Anyhoo, I would love to hang out some time. Call my ass. Also, there will be a big ole barn/ Airstream holler party out in Shelton Laurel August 30. You are highly invited. D

Milkweed said...

Thanks, yall. . .
I wanted to post an update to this recipe: since I've been making it almost every week this summer as the cukes are kicking, I've started adding a LOT more fresh dill (at least a handful), as well as fresh flat-leaf parsley in large quantities (at least the other handful).

I've also noticed that you can skip the heating & just mix the dressing/sauce up at room temp, as long as you stir it well.

And white onions work just as well as red.

Maybe I'll post an updated recipe. . .this is such a great summer staple.