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Easy Refrigerator Sweet Pickles Recipe

My kids love pickles, so for the last three or four summers we've planted pickling cucumbers (or what we now call "pickle plants," thanks to my sister-in-law.)  Pickling cucumbers are different than your typical fresh eating cucumbers because they stand up to the acidity of the vinegar better than regular cucumbers.  Those tend to get slimy in the pickling brine.  Pickling cucumbers don't.

I never seem to harvest enough of the pickling cucumbers at one time to actually can an entire batch of pickles.  I never harvest enough at one time to make one jar of pickles.  All summer long, the pickles just trickle in from the garden in twos and threes.

So, I've taken to making refrigerator pickles.  It's so super easy, that I think I prefer this method to brining and canning in a water bath.  All I do is make up a jar of "brine" and keep it in the refrigerator.  Then, I just stick the pickling cucumbers into the jar whenever I harvest them. 

When making pickles in this way, they have to be stored in the refrigerator and not on the pantry shelf.  But that seems to work OK for us.  They trickle in from the garden about as fast as we eat them, so it's a good balance.

If you don't have a "pickle plant" of your own, check out your local farmers market for pickling cucumbers.  Just about a pound of pickling cukes will fit in a quart jar nicely.

Easy Refrigerator Sweet Pickles Recipe
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vinegar (you can use white, apple cider, or whatever suits your fancy)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pickling spices
1/4 teaspoon canning salt (optional)
1 lb. pickling cucumbers (approximately)

Pour water, vinegar, sugar, spices and salt into a quart sized canning jar.  Seal lid and shake until sugar is completely dissolved.

Cut the blossom end off of the pickling cukes, because it can get wilt-y in the brine.  (I also cut the stem end off because I like my pickles to look symmetrical.  But it's purely personal preference, not necessary, and kind of weird.)

Stick the pickling cucumbers into the jar.  You can leave them whole, or cut them into spears or slices.  You can even do all three.  I usually have a combination of whole cukes, spears, and slices in one jar.

Place the jar into the refrigerator.  They'll be ready to eat in 24 hours, and they'll keep for several months in the fridge.

If you have a plant, like I do, just stick the new cucumber into the jar as you pick them.  The brine will last for several months, again, so long as it's kept refrigerated.          

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