Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Squash Refrigerator Pickles

‘Tis the season for gardens bursting with zucchini and yellow squash! Which means ‘tis also the season for those with gardens to become especially earnest in sharing squash with their friends and neighbors. Which means that, whether we’re growing them ourselves or receiving them from a friend, ‘tis the season to find many ways to prepare squash beyond zucchini bread and simple sautés.

So last week I tried my hand at pickling some squash! And I must say that I rather like the result. These are refrigerator pickles, also called quick pickles, which I think just means that 1) you don’t have to go through the extra step of sealing the jars to make them shelf stable and 2) therefore they go straight into the fridge rather than into the pantry. This was perfect for me since I wanted to go ahead and eat them, and canning still scares me.

I looked at lots of recipes for quick pickles, and learned that there are so many variations you can do. You definitely need salt, squash (or other veggies), and some sort of vinegar. Most of the recipes I looked at called for peppercorns. But from there, you can add various fresh herbs, ground spices, onions, other veggies like red bell pepper, or sweeteners to adjust the flavor to your liking. 

I tried a couple different variations—one more basic, and one more flavored—and made a quart jar of each. And I can’t quite decide which one I like better. The basic version (below) tastes very clean and un-fussy, while the slightly spicy variation (see notes) has a more complex flavor. As far as squash quantity, I had one mammoth zucchini plus two smallish yellow squash, which I sliced and split evenly between the two quart jars.

Summer Squash Refrigerator Pickles
Yield: 1 quart

4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro
1-1/2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1-1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 lbs. yellow squash and/or zucchini, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
1-1/4 cup white vinegar
1-1/4 cup water
1 tsp. kosher salt

To a clean, quart-sized mason jar, add the first seven ingredients (through onion). I put my garlic, peppercorns, and coriander at the bottom, and tried to sort of layer the onion and squash. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Pour over the contents of the jar, pressing down the vegetables so they’re submerged. Gently tap the jar on the counter to release air bubbles. 

Allow the jar to cool on the counter, then put a lid on the jar and let it chill in the fridge at least overnight. After mine was cooled and was lidded, I gave it a good swish (that’s gentler than a full-blown shake) every so often to help the flavors permeate the liquid and, therefore, the veggies.

  • For the variation I’m calling Slightly Spicy Summer Squash Pickles, add 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes to the jar, and use cider vinegar instead of basic white. 
  • I’ve only just made these so can’t testify personally, but most of the refrigerator pickle recipes I’ve seen say that these will keep for about a month in your fridge.

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