Fridge Pickles & Tsukemono

On Monday I told you that I have a new big project in the works and I gave you some hints: 18, 40, 9, spicy, tomatoes, mush. One of my readers, Semsavblanc, guessed right . . . I'm adding another Fuji to the family! I am a little over 18 weeks along out of 40. In total this "project" will take 9 months to complete. I'm craving anything spicy or that involves tomatoes, and my brain has turned to complete baby mush all over again! I've been trying to hide it, but as you can see, the news is a bit obvious:
So now that my news is out, let's turn to a topic that inevitably comes up along with pregnancy: PICKLES. I have brought this topic up before because I LOVE pickles, and crave them whether I'm pregnant or not. This is probably one of the reasons why I loved living in Japan so much. In Japan they eat many kinds of tsukemono, or "pickled things".

The tradition of making and eating tsukemono in Japan dates back at least 1,500 years when snow-covered mountain villages relied on pickles as a sole source of vegetables until they were able to grow fresh crops in warmer weather. The variety of pickles made in Japan increased over the years until in the Edo period the tsukemonoya, or "pickle shop", came into existence. Now, rarely does a meal go buy without tsukemono being served. They eat them with breakfast, lunch, dinner, as appetizers, and as snacks. Traditionally, the Japanese prepared tsukemono themselves with a tsukemonoki, or "pickle press". Now tsukemono can be bought in the supermarket, but many Japanese still make their own.
Although many recipes can be found online for free, there is a book that I've heard is excellent, Quick & Easy Tsukemono: Japanese Pickling Recipes, by Ikuko Hisamatsu, providing 73 different recipes for tsukemono. The book also includes some overall tips for pickling, and advice as to the specific equipment you will need.

So after all of this talk about tsukemono, I'm sure you're expecting a recipe right? Wrong. Well maybe not totally wrong. I recently came across a posting on The Amateur Gourmet of a recipe for Fridge Pickles. You guessed it, because of my penchant for pickles, I could not help but grab some cukes and make these. Okay, so what's the connection to tsukemono? Well these fridge pickles would make the Japanese proud. I would guess that if I served these to any of my Japanese friends that they would enjoy them just as much as the next tsukemono. They are so easy that even YOU can make them yourself and they are ready in a matter of hours. Another bonus is that these pickles are YUMMY. So yummy in fact that they will probably be making repeat appearances in the Fuji refrigerator. All that is required is for you to slice up some cukes,
mix some ingredients in a jar (I reused a 32 oz. pepperoncini jar),
add the cukes and then throw them in the fridge for a few hours to marinate!

So, without further adieu, fridge pickles:

Mom’s Fridge Pickles
From Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day

1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dill seed (I used 1 tsp. pickling spice because I couldn't find dill see)
4 to 5 small Kirby cucumbers (Japanese or English cukes would be yummy too!), peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 small white onion, thinly sliced

* I also added a couple sprigs of fresh dill weed

1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the cucumbers and onions in a jar and shake until sugar is dissolved
2. Add cucumbers and onions into jar and refrigerate at least 4 hours, shaking the jar occasionally to keep ingredients mixed. Pickles should keep at least a month.
Makes about 1 quart