Yet another zucchini recipe: zucchini pickles. (No, you won’t have to spend an entire day in the kitchen, steaming up the windows and driving up your air-conditioning bill.) The magic of refrigeration keeps non-heat-processed pickles perfectly preserved for weeks, without the bother of sterilized jars and steaming lids. Fresh, still-crunchy pickles pair nicely with grilled meats, are delicious tucked into sandwiches, and make a cool snack straight from the jar.
Rather than a tight recipe, here is a general guide for making refrigerator pickles. It works well with any crisp vegetable, from carrots to zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, radishes, or even fennel. You can vary the pickle seasoning according to personal preference and available supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 large, wide-mouth jar (a recycled, previously used jar is fine, as long as it is clean & has a lid)
- zucchini (or other veggies), cut into long, skinny spears (enough to tightly fill your chosen jar)
- 2-4 cups of vinegar (cider or distilled; use enough to fill your jar after the veggies are added)
- 2-4 T salt (according to the amount of vinegar used)
- aromatic spices: your choice of 1/2 to 1 tsp of mustard, dill, coriander, celery seeds; 1 or 2 cloves, a pinch of whole allspice berries, 3-4 bay leaves, black peppercorns, cardamom pods
- optional: 2 T to 1 cup sugar (adding all of the sugar will result in a sweet, bread and butter style pickle)
- optional: thinly sliced onions or 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
- optional: fresh dill fronds
Place vegetables into the wide-mouth jar; arrange to fit snugly, reversing spears from time to time so that the thick and thin portions are alternately at the top and bottom of the jar. If using onions, ginger, or dill fronds, place them between the packed vegetables (a chopstick is helpful). In a nonreactive saucepan (ie, not metal), bring the vinegar, salt, spices, sugar (if using) to a boil, then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture over the vegetables in the jar. Cover tightly, place in the refrigerator, and allow to steep 2-3 days before sampling. Refrigerated pickles will keep for several weeks.