These fresh, almost-instant pickles start off with the cucumber slices getting a big chill with a little bit of sugar, which draws out some of their water. Then just a splash of vinegar and a little salt, and you’ve got a really refreshing side dish for barbecues, picnics, or anything fried. They’re great plain, but you can add snipped dill, chives, or mint, or even some thin-sliced Vidalia onion.
Excerpted from A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen, © 2015 by Dora Charles. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
English cucumbers don’t have a lot of seeds, but garden cucumbers and Kirbys (bumpy-looking pickling cucumbers) actually taste better, though they’re not always available. If the cucumbers are seedy, cut them lengthwise in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Slice into half-moons and proceed with the recipe. About 10 Kirbys equal 2 English cucumbers.
Cut off the ends of the cucumbers and use the tines of a fork to draw long stripes down their lengths. Slice the cucumbers like bread-and-butter pickles, about 1⁄8 inch thick, and pile them into a large shallow bowl. Sprinkle the sugar over the cucumbers and stir it in well. Scatter the ice cubes over the cucumbers and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Chill in the freezer for ½ hour.
Drain the cucumbers in a colander and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Put the cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle the vinegar evenly over them, and stir well. Add the salt and pepper, if using, and stir well to combine. Toss in the herbs, if using, and the onions, if using. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
They’ll still be good the next day, though not quite as crisp.