To me, pickles taste like summer--a time when the cucumbers in our garden are going crazy, and we are harvesting them by the dozen. They're great on grilled hamburgers, sandwiches, and on relish trays and family barbecues.
There are so many different recipes out there for pickles of all kinds, but I'd have to say my favorite type of pickles are sweet pickles. I knew that I'd be making them this year, because I've been craving them badly (pregnant women really do like pickles), but I had yet to find a recipe that I liked (translation: an easy recipe).
Often times, when I am stumped on a recipe, I turn to an unusual cookbook:
As you can see, this cookbook has seen better days! The cover is gone, the pages are tattered, the binding is coming off...but still, I love this cookbook. It is a compilation of recipes put together by a local church. Honestly, I don't remember how I ended up with it--I don't go to this church, nor do I know anyone who does. Perhaps it was a garage sale find?
No matter though, there are some great, old-fashioned recipes in this cookbook. Just your average people from the community appear to have contributed them, so it has its share of grammatical errors and vagueness in some areas, but I have found some real gems in this cookbook--one of them being a recipe for Refrigerator Pickles.
Here is the actual recipe from that cookbook:
Slice a mixer bowl full of unpeeled cucumbers. Put 4 tablespoons salt over top. Add some onions and peppers. Let stand 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Put in colander to drain. Wash in cold water. Make a brine of 2 cups sugar and 2 cups vinegar. Pour over cucumbers. Keeps weeks in refrigerator.
Now, I mentioned vagueness before, if you will recall; "a mixer bowl full," the recipe states. Well, I had no idea how big Arva Fischer's mixer bowls were, so I just used my largest glass mixer bowl. I sliced my cucumbers using a mandolin until the bowl was full. This ended up being about 6 cups of cucumbers, I'd say (about 4 medium cukes).
I sprinkled the salt on top of the cucumbers, and tossed them together using a couple forks.
Then, I sliced a medium onion using the mandolin. I added the onion slices to the bowl, and used my forks to toss them with the salted cucumbers. I didn't have any peppers on hand, so I had to omit them, unfortunately. Had there been any peppers in the house, I would have cut one into strips and tossed them in with the onions.
I covered the bowl with a large plate, and let the cukes and onions stand for a few hours. The salt pulled a lot of liquid from the cucumbers; they were nearly covered in it. At this point, I poured the cucumbers into a colander and rinsed them well.
While the cucumbers were draining in the colander, I prepared the brine, mixing the sugar and vinegar. I had raw sugar on hand, so that is what I used.
I returned the cucumbers to the mixing bowl and poured the brine in. After mixing the cucumbers and brine a bit, I once again covered the bowl with the plate, and put it in the refrigerator over night. The next morning, I checked it:
I transferred the pickles to two quart jars, and ladled the brine over them.
Of course, the most important thing about Arva's recipe is this: they taste good. They're sweet and tangy, and unlike many canned recipes, these pickles stay crisp.
I give Arva's recipe a thumbs up!