I stopped in at the produce farm today, and they had—along with the expected zucchini and yellow squash, onions, potatoes, melons, corn (well, it was being picked), and tomatoes—several kinds of pretty cucumbers. This is just what I needed, although I'd gone there looking for okra. (I did—gulp—put in an order for three pounds of okra, not knowing that the heavy bag of squash and potatoes I was preparing to buy was only three pounds. I'm not very good with weights. Good thing I have one or two ideas for how to use okra.)
Anyway, I came home and looked up my mom's recipe for Persian pickles, which I think are the most delicious pickles this side of the Lower East Side. The comparison is inapt, because they're not dill pickles but tarragon-flavored mostly; also they're refrigerator pickles, which means you have to keep them in the fridge, but that's okay because like most pickles they're best cold anyway. My mom and her friend, who's from Iran, wrote a little book of Persian sweets and sours, as yet unpublished; this recipe comes from there. I halved it: 1 pound cucumbers, 3 garlic cloves, a few tarragon sprigs, 3 or 4 clusters of fresh coriander seeds (or 1/2 tablespoon dried seeds), and 2 dried red peppers in a leftover pickle-barrel-type jar (sorry, I forgot to check the volume; I'm not very good with volumes); 3 1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup cider vinegar.
2 to 3 pounds small crisp pickling cucumbers
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 fresh or dried chiles
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Pack the cucumbers, garlic, tarragon, coriander, and chiles into a 1-gallon jar.
Bring 7 cups water and the salt to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Add the vinegar and pour the mixture over the cucumbers. Put the lid on the jar. Refrigerate for 6 weeks.
Slice the pickles lengthwise to serve. Use within 2 months.
Makes 1 gallon.
Fresh coriander seeds—before they've dried into what we normally think of as coriander. They're tender, and the flavor is dead between coriander and cilantro. They're good sprinkled on top of a bowl of dal. I'm not sure how they'll work in these pickles, but I'll bet they'll be fine.