You may have seen “Kirby” cucumbers making their appearance at farm stands this week. We have a share at Restoration Farm, and when I saw the short, fat, knobbly cukes with thick skin last week I thought “Pickles!” But being lazy—I mean pressed for time—and because we are in the middle of a heat wave, my second thought was “refrigerator pickles!” which only take a half-hour of prep, don’t require any heat and are ready to eat in 24 hours. Plus, I love the fresh crunch of the half-sour-style pickle that you get with this refrigerator method.
A note on Kirbys: According to my go-to fruit and vegetable guide Field Guide to Produce by Aliza Green (2004 Quirk Productions), Kirby is the name of a similar but no longer commercially cultivated cuke. The true name is American dill.
Make sure you have 4 clean quart-size jars ready for this recipe. And when you buy your cucumbers, pick up a bunch of fresh dill!
Natalia’s Refrigerator Pickles
2 pounds medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced (I prefer spears, but you can also do rounds.) Zucchini can be substituted. Note: When pickling cucumbers you can play around with spices, but when pickling zucchini you really need to include turmeric with whatever other spices you choose. Without it, the zucchini lacks flavor, as I have learned the hard way.)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (1.5 cloves per jar)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric (This stuff stains! Careful!)
Several sprigs fresh dill weed
4 whole dried bay leaves (1 per jar)
1⅓ cups brown sugar
13 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (approx ¾ cup)
13 tablespoons white wine vinegar (approx ¾ cup)
1½ cups water
Divide cucumber and dry ingredients (except sugar) evenly between 4 quart jars with lids. Jam them in tight.
Stir together brown sugar, vinegars and water. Pour vinegar mixture into the jars, screw on lids and shake well to combine. (Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid to cover. The contents shrink after a day.)
Cover and chill. You can start eating them after 24 hours. They keep for about three months in the fridge. Eat the onions, too!