John Willoughby's Easy Cucumber Pickles

Be sure you remove the blossom ends of the cucumbers. This is necessary not because that section wouldn't taste good, but because it will sometimes soften a pickle; only a very thin slice need be removed. For a quick pickle that's closer to the familiar bread and butter pickles, add one large onion, peeled and sliced into rounds, to the cucumbers from the beginning of the process.

  • 3 pounds pickling cucumbers, under 5 inches long
  • 3 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1. Trim and discard the blossom end of the cucumbers, then peel the cucumbers and cut them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. In a nonreactive bowl, toss them with the salt, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 or up to 24 hours (I like them after 12). Drain well, rinse, and drain again. Repeat the rinsing and draining process, then set the cucumbers aside.

2. In a nonreactive pot, combine all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low, simmer for 3 minutes, then pour the liquid over the cucumbers. The cucumbers should be amply covered or slightly afloat.

3. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. These pickles have good flavor as soon as they are cooled, but the flavor will deepen if you let them sit for 24 hours. They will keep, covered and refrigerated, for a month or more.

Adapted from Quick Pickles: Easy Recipes for Bold Flavors, by John Willoughby, Chris Schlesinger, and Dan George, (Chronicle Books, spring 2001).

Yield: 
About 2 quarts
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