quick pickled cucumbers and happy mother’s day

quick pickles: sign me up! ::::

When I was child, I often ran around like a banshee in the summertime, catching cicadas and shaking them up in an empty coffee can to stun them with their eventual pinning to a insect display board, dumping sand all over my brother to see if I could bury him, and screeching to unhelmeted long stops on my Big Wheel with one of the neighbor kids riding on the back, also unhelmeted and shirtless. I was always having a lot of fun. My mother somehow had a keen eye on when some of these frolics would go astray. It was probably when I actually announced what I wanted to do. I can’t remember what I wanted to do on one occasion, but it caught my mother’s attention. It was undoubtedly something about petting the neighbor’s irritated cat too hard or more likely wanting to jump off the six-foot high backyard deck. I remember my mother saying, looking firmly into my eyes “You’re going to get yourself into a pickle if you do that.”

That stopped me cold. All sorts of wild images were conjured in my head. Get myself into a pickle? Get myself into a pickle? Inside? Now that sounded like fun. But, how, was the question. How could a grumbling neighborhood cat help me climb inside a giant pickle? If I jumped off the deck, would there be a humongous pickle, like a swimming pool, waiting for me to plop into its middle? Would there be little pickles cheering? Was there a large, hollow pickle, like a little house, where I could have my bedroom? I was very interested in this scenario that my mom presented so astutely yet so vaguely. I needed details.

“What do you mean, Mommy?”

“It’s just an expression,” she explained. A phrase, a figure of speech, separate from its literal meaning. Basically, nothing to do with a pickle. The image of a giant, dancing pickle immediately faded from my mind. My hopes were dashed. No life-sized pickle hiding in the next room, waiting for me to show and impress all the neighborhood kids.

And so I come to this, making pickles for my family, since I can’t conjure up the Giant Pickle of my childhood imagination. Admittedly, these are quick refrigerator pickles, not really pickles but really marinated cucumbers. To be true pickles, they would need to brine much longer that two days. For sour pickles, fermentation is needed. These are a quick fix: no brining, no sterilized canning jars, no weeks of waiting for proper fermentation. As any mother knows, kids always want things NOW and these fit the bill for even the impatient adult.

Eat and I tasted these yesterday (a day before they were going to be ready today, on Mother’s Day) and felt the cucumbers absorbed the vinegar well, but needed at least another day. The onions needed longer. The scent of pepper and garlic was obvious but not overpowering enough to offend close talkers. Feel free to add hot peppers, green beans, cauliflower, and other spices to the mix. And get a much bigger jar.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mum. I love you. Thanks for keeping me safe and helping grow my imagination.


quick pickled cucumbers and happy mother's day
Recipe type: appetizer
  • 1 large English cucumber (mine weighed 510 grams, or just over 1 pound), sliced in spears*
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ⅓ cup white wine vinegar (inexpensive is fine; no need for the fancy stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and diced
  • 5 cipollini onions, peeled (Other larger onions are fine too, roughly chopped. Cipollini are just so cute and so sweet in flavor.)
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • canning jars (Special jars not necessary as no sterilization needed and these keep in the fridge. A clean Ziploc bag will do.)**
  1. Mix water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, pepper, and garlic. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
  2. Slice cucumber (see single asterisk below for numbers) and set aside.
  3. Pour some of the vinegar mixture into chosen jar, add cucumber spears, onions, tarragon, and other vegetables if desired. Totally submerge contents in jar with vinegar mixture for 2 days. The vegetables will sweeten with more time in the liquid/ If you overshoot the jar size, making up some more of the vinegar mixture is easy. If you undershoot the jar to cucumber fit ratio, grab a new Ziploc bag to marinate. A reused Ziploc bag may have small holes in it, so I don't suggest its use to avoid a vinegar puddle inside of your fridge.
* I removed the ends of the cucumber, as the ends tend to be bitter tasting. I then sliced the cucumber into half lengthwise, then quarters, and eighths. Each of these long spears were cut width-wise into 4 pieces. The math: 8 spears x 4 pieces each = 32 finger-sized pickling spears. ** I used one 4 cup (1 quart or 946 ml) jar for all of my pickling, but it was very full. After a day, the cukes had soaked up some of the marinade and stuck up out of the marinade a bit. Problem solved: I taste-tested a spear.


what do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  
story of a kitchen