It's the rare person who doesn't love pickles.

Besides giving hamburgers a crunchy, vinegary finish or a Bloody Mary martini its zing, pickles are packed with the good bacteria called probiotics, which makes them terrific for gut health.

You might like pickles even more if you knew how easy they are to make with just a few simple ingredients you might already have in your pantry.

If you go with the refrigerator version, all you have to do is slice a few cucumbers and boil a mixture of water, vinegar, sugar and spices. Fridge pickles are exactly as billed: a type of fresh pickle that goes right into the refrigerator instead of being preserved in a hot water bath and put up. They can last for up to a month chilled, though the longer they sit, the less crisp they become.

For those of you who simply, ahem, relish pickles, we're providing three recipes for fridge pickles: old-fashioned bread and butter (sweet, with onions), classic dill and quick-pickled peaches, which sound weird but actually taste great on top of pound cake or vanilla ice cream.

All are easy and are just as tangy and flavorful as canned pickles. Be sure to wash the produce thoroughly and sterilize the pickling container before packing the pickles. I use glass Mason jars.


Bread and Butter Pickles

These have a crisp texture and sweet-sour flavor. They pair well with cheese and are awesome on top of a crispy chicken sandwich.

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Old-fashioned bread and butter pickles are flavored with brown sugar and onion, with turmeric adding a lovely golden hue. / Photo by Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

2 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced thin

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 cups sugar

2 cups white vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Combine cucumbers, salt and onions in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1-2 hours.

Remove cucumbers to a colander, and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return vegetables to bowl.

Combine granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ground turmeric in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumber mixture. Let cool to room temperature, then ladle into pint jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container.

— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette


Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

This makes a bit more brine than you'll need for 4 pint-sized jars, but I hate it when I come up short. Fresh dill, which you can find in bunches at farmers markets, is essential.

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Easy refrigerator dill pickles start with fresh pickling cucumbers, which are widely available at farmers markets in late summer. / Photo by Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

12 pickling cucumbers

4 large garlic cloves, halved

3 teaspoons mustard seeds

3 teaspoons peppercorns

1 bunch dill sprigs

4 cups water

4 cups distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup cane sugar

4 tablespoons sea salt

Slice cucumbers lengthwise into quarters, or eighths, depending on how fat the cucumber is and how fat you want your pickles. To make dill pickle chips, thinly slice them horizontally.

Divide sliced cucumbers among 4 8-ounce glass jars. Divide garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns among the jars, and add a couple of dill sprigs to each jar.

Bring water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve, 1-2 minutes. Let cool slightly, and pour over cucumbers. Set jars aside to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator.

Pickles will get more flavorful the longer they sit in the fridge. They can be stored for several weeks.

— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette


Quick Pickled Peaches

Pickling fruit brings out its natural sweetness, with a bit of zip. This recipe for pickled peaches makes an excellent topping for a variety of desserts, including vanilla ice cream. "Very different taste, but good with pound cake," my sister told me after sampling the jar I gifted her.

Be sure to pick peaches that are ripe but still firm or you will end up with mushy fruit. I used Gochugaru, the Korean version of red pepper flakes, for some extra kick.

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Pickled peaches are easy to make and will add a surprising, summery tang to ice cream or pound cake. / Photo by Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces

4 large, slightly firm peeled peaches

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Cut each peach into 12 wedges. Add peaches to vinegar mixture, and let stand 20 minutes. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon.

Makes about 2 cups.

— Adapted from

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Pickled peaches are easy to make and will add a surprising, summery tang to ice cream or pound cake. / Photo by Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS