It is THAT time of year! The gardens and farmers' markets are bursting at the seams with cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes....and we need to DO something with them! I opted to make some quick refrigerator pickles this week. Our life has been absolutely bananas for the last 2.5 months since we moved back to our homeland and have been living out of suitcases in the basements of our family members. Now that we are finally sleeping at our new house, things are a little less crazy, but we are in the process of a whole-house renovation and are still living out of suitcases. They are just in our bedrooms, now, instead. *Cue the OCD meltdowns*
At any rate, I do have a cutting board, knife and refrigerator unpacked at this point, so refrigerator pickles it is! (The best probiotics are the ones you eat!) I have never made these before, but they were super easy and tasty. The first batch was gone in less than 48 hours, so my daughter and I got another load of cucumbers at the farmers' market this week and are at it again!
So, the great part about this particular kind of pickle is that it is a raw, fermented food. I used RAW apple cider vinegar, which means it has lots and lots of friendly probiotic strains of bacteria living in it, as well as active enzymes to help in digestion. This type of ACV is murky and needs to be shaken prior to pouring it out of the bottle. (If the bottle is plastic or says pasteurized, you aren't getting a raw product.) Since I didn't boil or cook the brine or heat the jars to seal them, the friendly bacteria and active enzymes stay alive and happy in my pickles and eventually into my belly....or mostly into my kids' bellies, as they ate most of them.
Along with raw apple cider vinegar, I used unrefined sea salt, celery seed, some raw wild honey, filtered water and liquid stevia for my brine. The recipe I was loosely looking at for inspiration used granulated sugar, but honestly I didn't even have that in my pantry. I modified with a bit of honey and some stevia, and that was just fine. If you didn't have either of those things and used sugar instead, I would say start with a 1/2 cup and add to taste.
First, give those bad boys a bath. I washed my cucumbers in the sink in cool water with a mild soap and got them drained and ready to chop.
Now it's time to chop the cucumbers up into pickle-chip sized pieces! I got everything chopped and into a bowl so I could let them "sweat" for about 30-40 minutes. To do this, I sprinkled 3 tablespoons of salt (any kind will work for this step) onto the pieces and mixed it in. This will draw the excess water from the cucumbers and help to keep them crunchy in the fridge.
While the cucumbers are sweating, go ahead and thinly slice up a sweet onion.
Now it's time to make the brine. I combined everything in my Vitamix blender and very gently blended it so that I had the brine in a pitcher already for easy pouring into my jars.
**This amount of brine should be enough for about 7 cups of cucumbers, but if you run short, just make a bit more. The amount of brine needed will ultimately depend on how tightly you pack your jars.
Combine slowly in blender:
3 Cups raw apple cider vinegar
(Braggs is a good brand that is widely available)
1/2 Cup cool filtered water
(NOT hot...don't want to cook away those friendly bacteria or enzymes!)
1/4 Cup raw honey
(Or sweetener of choice...honey is what I happened to have)
1 teaspoon liquid stevia
(or equivalent amount of powdered, but do not use anything artificial) *You are welcome to use sugar if that's all you have, but just start with a small amount and add to taste. Less is more.
2 Tablespoons fine unrefined salt
(Pink Himalayan or unrefined sea salt would be great)
1 teaspoon celery seed
Now you rinse off the salt from your cucumber slices in a colander with cold water, and then layer a few slices of sweet onion with sliced cucumbers in your jars. Try to press down each layer to squeeze as much in as possible, but make sure not to be too aggressive and smoosh your beautiful cucumbers.
You are ready to pour in the brine - full enough in each jar to submerge all the slices - and then screw on the lids and pop them in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours before eating them all up! Look at all that fermented summer goodness!
I really want to know: How many of you make pickles? Do you usually cook the brine? What kinds of add-ins could we do with these raw / sweet pickles? I need inspiration! Comment below.
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