Pickles, Please

Simple refrigerator pickles.

We were in the middle of making a monster meal, you know the kind where every utensil, pot and ingredient is spread across the countertop and piled in the sink.  The recipe called for a little of this and a little of that leaving plastic bags of veggies with bits and pieces of left over cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers. You know just enough to save, but not enough for another meal. We decided it would be wise to use them up right away– before they had a chance to get lost in the fridge.

Since we were in the midst of a cooking rage, we grabbed the white vinegar, rice wine vinegar, sugar and like mad scientists started cooking up a brine. Initially we used equal amounts of vinegar and sugar, but it was pretty sharp, so we added water and salt (one and a half tablespoons, or so). In the end, we used 2 cups vinegar (mostly white) 1 cup water and two cups sugar. (This amount worked for our containers, adjust the liquid and sugar ratio to fit the container you use.) Then we cut up the veggies and put them in a sterilized jar. After we found a balance of flavor we liked we boiled the brine for a few minutes and then poured the hot liquid over the vegetables. To this we added two star anise and about one and a half tablespoons of pink peppercorns. Let cool and refrigerate. These are not pickles for storage, eat them within a week of making. They get better after they set for a day or two and are delicious on their own, as a snack with a hunk of great cheese, or as a condiment with a stew. Think about adding in other crisp vegetables. We’re suckers for turnips and beets. Go really crazy and add your own spices and seasonings. There is no right or wrong way to make them.