Here are two great recipes for making pickles—one uses a hot pickling mixture to make quick refrigerator pickles, the other a salty brine to lactoferment them.
Lactofermentation is a natural process of fermenting vegetables (and fruits!) with naturally occurring lactic acid. It has the added bonus of producing millions of wonderful probiotics. It is also a slower pickling process, so in the meantime I like to make the quick pickles to eat on sandwiches, with salads, and just straight out of the jar.
These two recipes use cucumbers and also work very well with any fresh crunchy vegetables like carrots or peppers, sliced very thin.
Sweet and Sour Quick Pickles
3-4 small cucumbers, cut into thin rounds
1 cup distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup cold water
Heat vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seeds in a small pot, allowing to simmer until sugar dissolves. Add water to cool the mixture.
Pour liquid over cucumbers and refrigerate. They will start to taste pickle-y in a few hours and are best the next day. Store for up to a month, submerged in liquid.
Garlic Dill Lactofermented Pickles
3–4 medium cucumbers, sliced into quarters
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 cloves garlic, whole
1 quart water
1–2 tablespoons salt
Fermenting cucumbers for pickles is super easy, but there are a couple of things that will aid in success. First, make sure the cucumbers are fully submerged in the brine. I will often use a clean stone, but you can use anything like a smaller jar filled with water or even a bag filled with brine (in case it leaks).
The second is that at this time of year, vegetables will ferment very quickly. Be sure to check on your jar frequently—every day would not be too much. Not only will you make sure to not overferment, but you’ll also get a sense of how the flavors and textures changes over time.
In the jar, add cucumber, dill, and garlic. Pour in brine until full, leaving a half-inch free at the top. Weigh down cucumbers and cover with cloth.
Check on cucumbers often, and when they taste pick-y and sour, enjoy . . . and refrigerate immediately!