I can never resist the giant bags of baby cukes that arrive in farmers' markets around late summer - I occasionally put up jars of dills, but always love slicing a bunch to make quick sweet-tart pickles to stash in the fridge to add to sandwiches and salads, or to satisfy sudden cravings. Of course you can pickle just about anything, but cucumbers are classic - and the small ones are so easy to slice and pack into jars. All you need is a simple brine of vinegar, sugar and salt - and if you like, some fresh garlic or dill, or a big pinch of pickling spices, which are available at most supermarkets.
Wash and slice your pickles about 1/4-inch thick, and pack them into jars while you simmer the brine. Since these are fresh refrigerator pickles, you won't need to worry about large batches, too many jars and processing them properly - they'll live in the fridge, so use whatever jars you have around.
Quick Refrigerator Pickles
Measurements here are pretty lax – really just go for enough brine to cover whatever it is you want to pickle. Add more sugar for sweeter pickles.
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar (or more, if you like sweeter pickles)
1 Tbsp. coarse salt
1 garlic clove, smashed (optional)
2 tsp. pickling spice or mustard seed (or a sprig of fresh dill)
6-8 small cucumbers, sliced on a slight diagonal
In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and pickling spice to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the cucumber slices into a jar (or jars) and pour the hot brine overtop. Cover and refrigerate for a few days before you start eating them. They'll keep in the fridge for up to a month.
Makes about 1 L.