Taco Refrigerator Pickles

By Ann Fulton

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Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that’s perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!  

 

On his holiday shopping expedition last year, Christian stopped in a local store that makes a small but impressive variety of pickles. Along with horseradish-infused and hot pickles, Christian brought home a container of taco pickles.

We all became fast fans.

At first glance, the novelty of the flavor impressed me. The actual taste, however, truly won me over.

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

These pickles capture all the requisite flavor notes of the classic seasoning blend while maintaining the light, crisp freshness that every good pickle should have. The inclusion of fresh dill ensures these bite-size gems read as pickles, while mild heat adds a little extra zing. 

As always, those who prefer no heat have that option, while those who like more may ratchet it up easily.

In my attempts to replicate the store-bought version, I added the onions to enhance the flavor of the brine. Interestingly enough, the pickled onions became favorites in our house. They are a lovely addition to burgers, tacos, and burrito bowls, although we eat them as is, too. 

For years, my family has enjoyed this easy recipe for Bowdoin Pickled Red Onions. One of these days, however, I plan to make a whole batch of pickled onions in the taco pickle brine. 

If you’re inclined, feel free to try that yourself (and please report back!) or simply adjust the ratio of cucumbers to onions based on what you may enjoy. 

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

You may cut the cucumbers into thin slices, which are ideal for adding to sandwiches and burgers. My family loves to snack on these pickles, so I often cut them into thicker chunks. Either way, small, pickling cucumbers are preferable to a slicing cucumbers, as they have less moisture and fewer seeds. I am finding 14-ounce packages–the perfect amount for this recipe–are available in many local grocery stores year-round. 

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

To prevent the seasonings from settling to the bottom of the pot, stir the brine well before pouring into the quart jar. Alternatively, you may use two pint-size jars or another non-reactive container like a ceramic crock. Depending on how efficiently you pack the jar, you may end up with a little extra brine, which may be saved to add to more cucumbers, or discarded.

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

These pickles need not be processed in a hot water bath; simply store in the refrigerator. While you may eat them right away, the flavor will improve over the first several days if you can hold off.

Cool, crisp refrigerator pickles get a new flavor twist in this easy recipe that's perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, and serving alongside a variety of barbecue fare. No canning required!

Additionally, these pickles provide another excellent use for Homemade Taco Seasoning and are one of the many reasons I mix several batches of the seasoning at a time. The flavor is fresher when you make it yourself and it’s convenient to have on hand.

Homemade Taco Seasoning is also quick and easy, and you likely have all the ingredients in your spice rack. I stock up by making several store-bought “packet-size” equivalents as provided in the recipe.

At the same time, I make a double batch to use in bulk. The bulk batch is perfect when a recipe calls for a single teaspoon or tablespoon of the mix. That way, you don’t have to open a packet for a small amount and then not have enough the next time you want to make tacos (like these easy Baked Tacos).

I store the homemade taco seasoning in assorted small jars, like the one in the photo above. If you use newer spices and keep in a cool, dark place, the seasoning mix will maintain freshness for a year or so.

Other pickle recipes you may enjoy:

  • Refrigerator Dill Pickles — Dill pickle lovers rejoice! This recipe doesn’t require canning and captures the quintessential flavor and crispness that every dill pickle should have.
  • Old-Fashioned Horseradish Pickles — The natural fermentation process requires patience but is otherwise easy (and no canning necessary) and rewards with exceptional flavor.
  • Quick Pickled Corn —  Delicious by the spoonful, this easy-to-make condiment will also perk up burgers, tacos, and salads.
  • Easy Refrigerator Pickled Vegetables — Sometimes you want more that just cucumbers, and this easy recipe delivers.
  • Seven Day Pickles — Sweet pickle fans delight in these crunchy bites, that are made just like our grandmothers made them.
  • Bowdoin Pickled Red Onions — The beautiful hue adds visual appeal, and the flavor provides a punch of flavor to a variety of meats, tacos, sandwiches, salads, and more.
  • Easy Fermented (or Fresh) Garden Salsa — Not quite a pickle, but this delightful salsa allows for the same old-fashioned process used in the horseradish pickles, above. No special skills or equipment are needed, and unlike other fermented foods, salsa takes only a few days to ferment.

 

Taco Refrigerator Pickles
Yield: 1 quart-size jar (or 2 pint jars)
For a bigger snacking bite, I slice the cucumbers into thick chunks; you may slice them into traditional rounds or spears if preferred. If you like the chunk idea, be aware that the bulkier pieces don’t pack into the jar quite as efficiently. On that note, you can reuse the brine. When adding fresh cucumber, just allow several days for the cold brine to infuse the slices.
For the pickles:
  • 14 ounces pickling cucumbers (3 to 3½ cups, sliced)
  • ½ cup fresh dill sprigs (lightly packed; about 4 nice sprigs)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro sprigs (lightly packed; about 6-8 sprigs)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 3-4 thin wedges onion (about ¼ cup; I use red, could use yellow)
  • 1 jalapeño, serrano, or chili pepper of choice, sliced (seeded for less heat; or use 2 with seeds for extra heat)
For the brine:
  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) water
  • ¾ cup (180ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (store-bought or homemade taco seasoning)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Instructions:

Snugly pack the cucumber, dill, cilantro, garlic, onion, and jalapeño slices in a large mason jar. I intersperse the herbs, jalapeños, etc., with the cucumbers.

Meanwhile, place the water, vinegar, sugar, taco seasoning, salt, and peppercorns in small pot over high heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. It’s not essential that a full boil be reached; just be sure the salt and sugar have dissolved. Let sit for a minute or two—just long enough so the mixture doesn’t spatter when poured—and then stir well to incorporate the spices (they will settle to the bottom of the pot) and pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers in the jar. Cool slightly, and then screw on the lid and refrigerate overnight.

The pickles will be ready to eat the next day, although the flavor will continue to develop and improve over the first 3-4 days. (Helpful hint: Because the spices settle to the bottom of the jar, I turn the jar upside-down on occasion over the first few days—make sure the lid is screwed on tightly—to allow them to redistribute through the brine.)

Notes & Tips

For crispest pickles, slice off and discard the blossom end of the cucumber. It contains enzyme that can make pickles softer.

For best results, use pickling cucumbers, which have less moisture and fewer seeds than conventional slicing cucumbers. These are often available year-round in the produce section of larger grocery stores and are abundant at farm markets (and backyard gardens!) in the summertime.

Don’t have a canning jar? You can use another large container. Ceramic or glass work well. Avoid plastic or metal.

Don’t have a jalapeño or another variety of fresh hot pepper? For a backup, you may use red pepper flakes. Plan on ¾ teaspoon to provide heat similar to one jalapeño pepper.

Can you use a different vinegar? I have tried this recipe with apple cider and red wine vinegar. Though the resulting pickles aren’t bad, I do prefer the more neutral flavor of basic white vinegar stipulated in the recipe by a wide margin. A white wine vinegar may be a better sub, and in a pinch, apple cider vinegar would be my choice over red wine vinegar.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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