It’s pickling season! If the idea of making pickles conjures up hours of sterilizing jars, trimming and peeling pounds of produce, and wondering later if the lids sealed safely–relax! You can certainly go through that whole process if you enjoy it (as I do), but there’s also a much easier way to prepare homemade pickles.
Several vegetables commonly pickled can be prepared as “refrigerator pickles.” Refrigerator pickles won’t keep as long as pickles canned the traditional way, but they are fast to make and will last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on the vegetables and the recipe you use.
Refrigerator pickles are not as fussy to prepare as traditional canning methods. For example, since the pickles will be refrigerated constantly from the time you make them, jars and lids don’t need to be sterilized by boiling. Cleaning jars in the dishwasher (using the hottest water setting) is typically sufficient. Lids also don’t need an airtight seal. If you use a recipe from a reputable source and follow the directions exactly, the pickles will be quick and easy to make, and safe to eat. (Recipes which call for fermenting first without refrigeration are NOT safe to store afterward in the refrigerator.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you haven’t made pickles before, it’s a good idea to check first with the WSU Whatcom County Extension Office (676-6736) for information about food safety and sources of safe and reliable recipes. Be sure to let them know you are specifically looking for “refrigerator pickle” recipes and safety guidelines.
Refrigerator pickles are front and center in this week’s meal menu:
- Quick Pickled Beets and Eggs
- Sauteed Beet Greens