Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Icebox Pickles #recipe by @Leslie Karst

LESLIE KARST: I planted a cucumber this summer, and it’s been producing like crazy. So what to do with all those cukes?

Why, pickles, of course!

I didn’t want to mess with sterilizing jars, so I decided to go with icebox pickles, which must be kept refrigerated after being made. (Note that the botulism toxin can’t tolerate high acid, salty or cold conditions.) There are a jillion recipes for icebox pickles online, so I sort of combined a few to come up with my own (based partly on what I had on hand in my cupboard and garden). I decided on bread-and-butter style pickles, i.e., a combination of sweet and dill. A veritable Goldie Locks, am I.

The hardest part was finding enough jars. I’d had about a dozen canning jars until last year, when in a fit of “cleaning” had decided to give them away, thinking “I’ll never can anything.” Famous last words. But between some salsa jars in the recycling, and finding other almost-empty jars in the fridge, I was able to come up with enough to do the job. (Do wash the jars well in hot, soapy water before starting.)

Icebox Pickles

(per jar of pickles)

1 cup vinegar
1 t mustard seed
1 t black pepper corns
1 t chopped garlic
½ t crushed red chili peppers (the kind they give you at pizza parlors)
1 sprig tarragon
2 t salt
1 T sugar  


I cut most of my cukes into spears,

but did one jar’s worth as disks, for use in sandwiches. After they’re cut, jam as many pieces as you can into each jar:

The next step is to heat your vinegar with your flavorings. Some of the recipes called for apple cider vinegar, but since I had about a gallon of plain old white vinegar, I decided to go with that.

To find out how much vinegar I needed, I poured straight vinegar into my pickle-filled jars, about three-quarter ways full. Then I poured the vinegar from the jars into a saucepan:

Next I added my ingredients: mustard seed,

crushed red chili peppers,

chopped garlic (I used the kind that you buy in a jar), black pepper corns, white sugar, and (pictured) fresh tarragon, and salt:

Bring the seasoned vinegar to a boil,

then immediately turn it off, let it cool so it won’t break the jars when you add it, and then pour it into each jar:

Top the jars with enough of the vinegar mixture to cover the cucumbers, and cap them:

Keep them in the fridge, and they will be ready to eat in about four days. But they improve with age: After about a week they were better; and after two, even better than that. Here are some of the discs on a sandwich I made:

Note that, since these are icebox pickles—and not vacuum packed—you can taste a pickle after about 4 days, and then add more seasonings as desired. I did this, and ended up adding more salt and sugar to mine.

And, of course, you could pickle all sorts of things other than cucumbers: string beans, okra, radishes, onions, cauliflower... 

🍋 🌿 🐝


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
Leslie on Facebook
Leslie on Twitter
Leslie on Instagram

Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:

“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are also available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!


  1. Also a very easy pickling method for those cucumbers is to save the brine from your store bought pickles (keep in refrigerator until use)
    Cut your cucumbers as you like. Into a microwave container add cucumbers and some onions ( if you like) and the brine. Microwave for three minutes. Cool and keep in refrigerator. Keeps up to two weeks and so good and easy!!

  2. I come from a family where we knew that if you get rid of something today, tomorrow you will know why you needed it! Amazing, isn't it.
    These sound like fun.
    One downside of pickles is their high sodium content. Making your own allows you to control that somewhat.
    Growing up my father made a big jar of pickles in the summer. I know there were carrots in it, but I think he also added shrimp! It was fun to take a long fork and pick out the desired items.

    1. Ooo... I like the idea of adding shrimp to your pickles! I make kimchee, too, which I add fish sauce to, and it's yummy!