Mexican Lime Refrigerator Pickled Vegetables19. September 2022
If you’re a gardener, you may be nearing the end of the season for harvesting produce. That typically means the weather has changed and tomatoes are slow to ripen, if they ripen at all. The last remaining carrots need pulled from the garden beds before they get buggy. Only a handful of non-bulbous green beans remain on the plants. And perhaps even the herbs are just about spent. So what to do with handfuls of produce that are too small to can individually? Make refrigerator pickles of course!
While it’s uber important to follow canning recipes for safety reasons, there is a bit of freedom when making refrigerator pickles. You can get creative and concoct your own mix by using a Master Brine recipe. Ball Canning has guidelines for making easy-peasy refrigerator pickles in The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. They offer up several different pickle recipes where you can choose your own veggies and seasonings. Their recipes use a master brine solution of vinegar, water, sugar, and pickling salt. Then you add the seasonings and vegetables of your choice for their recipe combination suggestions.
My favorite refrigerator pickles are based on Ball's Mexican Fridge Pickles recipe. I use their base recipe, but tweak it for what’s usually left in my garden at the end of the season. I have also been able to make this same recipe at the beginning of the growing season when cucumbers are still producing and I can grab the first green tomatoes. The great thing about making fridge pickles is that you can change up the vegetables within the mix and make safe substitutions. You are able to do this safely because these are NOT a shelf-stable product. You will make these pickles and then store in the refrigerator. Another appreciable thing about fridge pickles is they tend to be crunchier than canned varieties. If you’re looking for a crisper pickle recipe that is shelf-stable though, get our Crispy Dill Pickle canning recipe on our blog.
I will present my variation of Ball’s Mexican Fridge Pickle recipe below, but I will also note some of their original suggestions in parenthesis. Basically, I hate peppers and things that are too spicy, so I omit those from my recipe. And I substitute some of the other vegetables as well.
Mexican Lime Refrigerator Pickled Vegetables
Recipe adapted from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” ©2022 CanningCrafts
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Preservation method: Refrigerator (not shelf-stable!!!)
Difficulty level: Easy
Yield: Makes 1 quart jar OR 2 pint jars (recipe is adjustable for more jars, just make more brine!)
Master Brine Solution*:
- 2 cups of white vinegar (5% acidity) (Ball suggests you can use White or Apple Cider Vinegar)
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (or bottled will work fine)
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of pickling salt
*You may have leftover brine. Store in fridge and use for more pickles later.
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Chopped carrot greens (Read our blog post on why you should eat carrot greens)
- Fresh Cilantro*
*I only add a pinch of cilantro since I am not a fan, but you can add up to 1/4 cup per Ball’s recipe. If you are a fan of Cilantro, read out blog post on How to Grow and Harvest Cilantro & Coriander Seed)
(Ball original recipe also calls for 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, which I omit because I am a wimp!)
This recipe is flexible and can be adjusted for what you have left in your garden or what you prefer to eat. Mix and match as you wish, or make your own substitutions. Wash, trim, and peel your vegetables. Depending on the sizes of your veggies, you can leave them whole, halve, quarter, slice, or chop.
Here is the veggie mix I use for my recipe:
- Cucumbers, sliced into 1/4” coins
- Cucamelons*, leave whole
- Red Onion, sliced thin
- Green Tomatoes (depending on size, quarter or leave whole if cherry tomatoes)
- Green Beans, snapped in half
- Carrots, sliced into coins
- Garlic Cloves, crushed but left whole
(Ball’s original recipe suggestions are for bell peppers, carrots, chili peppers, green beans, onions, pickling cucumbers, radishes, and zucchini)
*Cucamelons (aka Mexican Sour Gherkins) are wonderful in fridge pickles! They look like mini watermelons, taste like citrusy cucumbers, and have a great snap to them when picked fresh. They are easy to grow in pots on your patio and can be fairly prolific.
Prepare Your Jars
Prepare your master brine solution by combining the vinegar, water, lime juice, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small stainless steel pot or enameled pan. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Tightly pack your chosen vegetables, crushed garlic cloves, chopped carrot greens, and cilantro into a hot quart jar (or 2 pint jars). I like to randomly mix the veggies in the jar and sprinkle in carrot greens and cilantro throughout.
Pour hot Master Brine over vegetables to cover them. Use a bubbling tool or chopstick to remove air bubbles. Add more brine to cover if needed. Cover with a lid (since this is a non-shelf stable, fridge recipe, I like to repurpose old, previously used lids. Do NOT use previously used lids for shelf stable canned goods).
Let jar stand an hour or until cooled at room temperature. Store cooled jar in refrigerator*. For best flavor, allow the jar to pickle in the fridge for at least one month before eating. Pickles will become more flavorful over time.
*IMPORTANT: This is NOT a shelf stable product. The jar MAY seal itself, but it must be stored in a refrigerator.
How long will these pickles last in the fridge? I think that may depend on the veggie mix you use. I have made fridge pickles with zucchini which tends to break down quickly and get mushy. Yuck! Green tomatoes and cucumbers hold up a very long time. Carrots and green beans always feel snappy. I have made my basic Mexican Fridge Pickle recipe and it is still good even after a year.
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