Lemon Cucumber Pickles
Is there anything better than a gift of fresh vegetables delivered right to your doorstep? That was the case last week when our new favorite neighbors dropped off a beautiful bounty from their garden. It included some incredibly good tomatoes that we roasted and some lemon cucumbers. I have to confess to a love-hate relationship with cucumbers. I’m not very fond of them on their own. Oddly enough I love them pickled, marinated or brined. And when it comes to cucumbers, lemon cucumbers are a treat! They have a great delicate flavor and firm texture. For years, I enjoyed serving them as a simple appetizer marinated in rice vinegar, and a Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. But with more cucumbers than I could probably eat, I had to find a way to make them last. I got out my old recipe box and resurrected a blast from the past.
When I was a lot younger than I am now, I was very fond of growing my own vegetables. Well before blogging, before the Internet, even before Martha Stewart, I not only grew my own vegetables, but was also heavily invested in canning and preserving them. I made jams, chutneys, sauces, relishes, condiments, and pickles. I used to say I was Martha Stewart before she was. My favorite and most well received accomplishment were my pickles: Garlic Dill and Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles mainly, and refrigerator pickles when I didn’t have time to can. I finally gave up on gardening and got rid of most of my canning equipment about four moves ago. I enjoyed it, but I have no desire to get back into it. I guess you could say I have put canning on the back burner. Fortunately, there are always refrigerator pickles. Refrigerator pickles are almost as good as canned. You can make them in small batches that you can use right away. They are easy to make in a snap even if all you have is a small handful of vegetables. The brine in this recipe is my basic pickling brine. In addition to cucumbers, I have used it on almost anything that grows. You don’t need to adhere to this blend of spices; you can alternate with an endless number of combinations and different flavor profiles. That is one of the nice things about small batches… you are free to experiment without fear. These simple brined pickles are good enough to eat right away, but they are even better after sitting overnight. They will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks, but I doubt they will last that long.
- 1½ pounds of lemon cucumbers, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon pickling spice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Slice the cucumbers, bell pepper, and onion thinly (between ⅛-1/4 inch)
- Put the cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in a large glass or other non-reactive bowl.
- Add salt and other seasoning, toss well, and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Combine the sugar and vinegar over low heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved then remove from heat.
- Pour over the vegetables and allow to cool.
- Place the pickles in a lidded container and store in the refrigerator.