A Very Large Bowl of Pickles for a Potluck

ingredients for pickles

Last Saturday, I taught a class about cucumber pickles. We made quick pickles, we made preserved pickles, and spent the afternoon filling a church social hall with the arresting scent of boiling vinegar. Everyone went home happy and with jars of pickles clutched in their hands. I went home exhausted (my standard state after a class) and with a 12 cup measuring cup filled with the leftover cucumbers.

green onions

When I got home, I made turkey sandwiches for Scott and me, and contemplated those cucumbers. I considered a batch of preserved pickles (the canning pot was already on the stove, so it wouldn’t have been too much of a hassle), or cooking up a salt brine for a round of kosher dills. Eventually though, my brain skipped ahead to the next afternoon. I was invited to a cookout at a friend’s house and needed something to bring. A bowl of quick pickles seemed like just the thing.

garlic

In my years of canning, one of the things I’ve learned is that while people appreciate it when you bring jars of preserved pickles and condiments, there’s really nothing that thrills a pickle-loving crowd more than when you show up holding a very large bowl filled with crunchy, slightly sweet, gently spicy, tangy pickles.

cilantro

I was introduced to the idea of the very large bowl of pickles many years ago. I was the potluck host that time, and my friend Wendy brought a full-to-the-brim bowl of homemade pickles to the party. At the end of the evening, the bowl thoroughly emptied of every cucumber spear and their deliciousness was all anyone could talk about.

In addition to keeping the leftover brine that night (Wendy okay-ed it), I have long since adopted the practice of making and bringing massive batches of quick pickles to parties. I know how to spot a good idea when I see it.

mint

On Saturday, the concept of a very large bowl of pickles also had the added benefit of using up some lingering ingredients. I had green onions, cilantro (both also leftover from the class) and a bundle of mint. None of it was going to weather more than a day or two more and so needed to be used.

Now, let it be said right now that if you’re not a fan of cilantro or you can’t stand mint, they can be omitted or swapped for some other tasty green herb. Because this is a quick pickle, nearly every component of the dish can be altered, traded or left out completely.

bed of pickle flavor

I pulled out a large bowl that happened to have a tight-fitting lid (to control the inevitable pickle brine slosh). Into the bottom, I heaped green onion segments, slivered garlic, chopped cilantro, torn mint leaves and a generous palmful of red chili flakes (had I had a fresh hot pepper, I would have used that instead).

cucumbers in bowl

I cut up 10 or 12 large Kirby cucumbers and crammed as many as I could on top of the green onions, mint, cilantro, garlic, and red chili flakes.

pouring brine

Then came the brine. I used 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. I will also confess that instead of preparing the brine on the stovetop, I combined all the ingredients in the measuring cup you see there and microwaved it until the sugar was dissolved (since it wasn’t being preserved, there was no real reason to bring it to a full boil).

covered in brine

Once the brine was in (magically, I had the exact right amount), I jiggled the bowl a little and squeezed in a few more cucumber slices. Then, the lid went on and the bowl went into the fridge for an overnight rest. Just to give you an idea of the time commitment these pickles require, once I had all the ingredients in place, it took less than ten minutes from start to finish (and that included pauses to take these photos).

finished pickles

On Sunday afternoon, I wrapped the bowl in a towel (just in case of leakage) and toted them out to West Philly for the party. Happily, the pickles were very well-received. More than once, I heard people commenting on their crunchy, sweet, spicy, pucker. Later that evening, I also got a quick follow-up text from the host that simply said, “Your pickles were amazing!”

The very large bowl of pickles wins again!

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33 Responses to A Very Large Bowl of Pickles for a Potluck

  1. 1
    Juice says:

    I love this idea!

  2. 2
    Leslie R. says:

    This looks awesome! In the article you mentioned doing this with spears – would it still just need an overnight in the fridge? Or longer if they were bigger pieces of cucumber?

    • 2.1
      Marisa says:

      The first time I tried someone else’s version of this pickle, she had cut them in spears. I like slices better, as I feel like they stay a little crunchier. However, you can do spears and they’d still need an overnight in the fridge to let the brine soak in.

  3. 3
    kathleen says:

    I AM TOTALLY MAKING THESE FOR MY NEXT POT LUCK CONTRIBUTION!!!!!
    oops. didnt mean to yell!!!

  4. 4
    Mayda says:

    Thanks to your amazing idea, I have a weekend project that I’m looking forward to!

  5. 5
    PamelaR says:

    Newbie question here. I don’t have a farmer’s market handy so won’t be able to find organic cukes. What kind of cukes can I purchase at the local grocery store that would work here. Mostly I seem to find cukes that have wax all over them. Is there a way to remove the wax? Will the wax impede the quick picking process? Thanks for the help. I’m really looking forward to trying these.
    Pamela in Tucson

    • 5.1
      Marisa says:

      Look for the Kirby or pickling cucumbers. Even grocery stores often have them during the summer months (they are smaller and have a pebbly exterior). If you can’t find them, use the English cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic. They’re not waxed.

  6. 6

    These look great. Could you preserve these pickles or are they best served as a quick pickle, and how long do they last in the fridge as quick pickle.

  7. 7
    Linda says:

    Huge bowl of homemade pickles = my kind of party! They look yum.

  8. 8
    Lisa says:

    Sounds & looks delicious! Our cucs are climbing away, so I’m sure I’ll have some to spare for this recipe! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

  9. 9
    Debbie says:

    What a great idea! I love your blog showing small batches of canning things. In my growing up years, everything has always been done on a really large scale. We (the women & children) would get up really early and drive to someone’s farm for a long morning of picking peas, beans, tomatoes, corn, and okra (most of the time). The rest of the day was spent shelling peas, or shucking corn, on the porch in comfortable chairs catching up on everyone’s life. These were canned on a large scale. We children were then run off during that time, because it was pretty much a hot operation and we didn’t mind getting to go play.

    Much of what I’ve learned about canning was actually passed onto me by my mother in law as my maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother passed away when I was really young. Putting up food became a thing of the past and I really missed it.

    Now that I’m older with grandchildren of my own I’m passing onto them what I know and they’re loving it. We’ve started with pickles. Tonight, I’m going to be doing a small batch of pickled sweet banana peppers.

    I had originally wanted to respond to PamelaR about organic cucumbers. If it’s summer time where you live, now is a great time to plant a couple of plants. Just put them on a fence and they will make cucumbers like you wouldn’t believe. You can give them a nice compost to feed them and make sure they get watered good. You’d be surprised at the harvest you get from them. Lots of people start out with tomatoes, but cucumbers are probably easier in my opinion. On one of my banana pepper plants, I have about 3 large peppers that will be picked and pickled this evening.

    Have a great day!

    Debbie…(O:
    >

  10. 10
    lisa fine says:

    Great idea. I just made my first batch of quick pickles over the weekend, and can’t wait to try them.

    How soon after making them can they be eaten, and how quickly should they be eaten before going off?

  11. 11
    Tara says:

    I’m going to a party on Saturday, and I’m completely stealing this idea.

  12. 12
    Nicole Leigh says:

    Seeeeeeriously considering these for my BBQ potluck on Friday afternoon. Thank you so much for the simple, but awesome recipe!!

  13. 13

    These look great! As someone who doesn’t like the flavor of cucumbers, but loves pickles, does this method create something more like a new pickle (aka cucumbery, which is a word I just made up) or does it lean more towards a half-sour in taste?

    Thanks!!

    • 13.1
      Marisa says:

      Rebecca, the longer they sit, the more pickly and less cucumber-y they become. So if you made a batch and didn’t love them after 24 hours, you’d just want to let them sit a little longer. They’re not going to give you a half sour flavor, because that pickle is mostly just salty (it’s a fermented pickle, so it’s an entirely different kettle of fish).

  14. 14
    noreen says:

    Can I do this for kosher dills? I really, really dislike sweet pickles. *hides*

    • 14.1
      Marisa says:

      This pickle is far from being truly sweet, but if you don’t want even a hint of sweetness you can either pull the sugar out of the recipe all together or you can use the same technique but follow the flavor profile an unsweetened dill pickle. Kosher dill pickles are traditionally made via fermentation, but you can get close following my garlic dill recipe, but with the giant bowl technique.

  15. 15
    Pete says:

    Oh, these look soooo good! Am eagerly anticipating the cuke plant producing something with which to make these, and all sorts of variations. Like I would HAVE to add sliced onions, just because.

    Hmm. Am now regretting having only planted ONE cucumber plant!

  16. 16
    Eileen says:

    Oh man, now I totally want to host a gargantuan pickle party! All pickles all the time!

  17. 17
    E. Conley says:

    Makes me sad we didn’t have room for cuke’s this yr. Sill working on expanding the garden. Maybe ill grab a few from the market today. I like the idea of making a few batches of homemade pickles

  18. 18
    Holly D says:

    I may have missed this, but do you stir everything up, or just let the pickles sit on top of the other ingredients? Thinking I need to make this this summer!

  19. 19
    TracyO says:

    I just made my first batch with a couple of cucumbers from my CSA. Can’t wait to have them, maybe with some hamburgers this weekend! I have leftover herbs, so I think I’ll try this with some itty bitty yellow squashes I got this week as well. Thanks for the idea!

  20. 20

    [...] extra high, so I can control how much pickle is going on in my bites. Or how much isn’t. This very large bowl of pickles… well… I guess if you’re making it you better quadruple the batch, cause if you [...]

  21. 21

    [...] just slice them and eat them in salads, on sandwiches, etc.  I saw a blog post by Food in Jars, http://foodinjars.com/2013/06/a-very-large-bowl-of-pickles-for-a-potluck/  , she took a bowl of quick pickles to a party and it inspired to me to try a quick pickle on [...]

  22. 22
    Catherine North says:

    Hi

    Love the sound of this! would it work on a smaller scale? Or with other veg? Im thinking cauliflower as i have a bit of a glut!

    Thanks

  23. 23
    Jeanne Barton says:

    I planted a 20 foot row of pickling cucumbers this year, and have started making dill pickles. ( 4 jars so far) This looks like a fun, tasty way to use up the huge wave of cukes I forsee coming at me this month. What a great gift to share with friends too!
    Thank you for a great idea! Pickling is new to me. Some can be fermented, I read. Others need a pickling spice. Still others need to be sweet. So many options!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] extra high, so I can control how much pickle is going on in my bites. Or how much isn’t. This very large bowl of pickles… well… I guess if you’re making it you better quadruple the batch, cause if you [...]

  2. Pickled Radishes | Pickled Sweet - July 2, 2013

    [...] just slice them and eat them in salads, on sandwiches, etc.  I saw a blog post by Food in Jars, http://foodinjars.com/2013/06/a-very-large-bowl-of-pickles-for-a-potluck/  , she took a bowl of quick pickles to a party and it inspired to me to try a quick pickle on [...]

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