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Barbecue is a SERIOUS BUSINESS in the South, and these 3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles compliment ‘cue with their mildly sweet, partially sour flavor.
Planting cucumbers in my kitchen garden means constant batches of pickles and cucumber salad throughout the summer. I never mind it because I’m always able to keep our refrigerator stocked with a sandwich side waaaay healthier than potato chips.
Cucumber salad is among my all-time favorite cold salads. I leave it to my mom to put up the cucumber salad, as mine is never consistent. The one thing I do well though, are 3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles.
3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles are a super popular BBQ and grill side because they’re ready within an hour, and even better when left to cure longer. The ingredient list is minimal. No onions, red pepper flakes, or bay leaf. These crispy pickle chips are basic, but they prove that cukes can be cured fast with sugar, distilled vinegar, and water.
A Tale of a Cucumber Quick Pickle…
I would be fibbing if I said I was shown how to put up these pickles. But for as many times as I have talked and written about ‘cue…barbecue…here in Charleston, I needed to demo a pickle recipe that would not get anybody new to pickling hung up with lots of ingredients and steps.
Seriously, do you have distilled vinegar and a cuke? Okay, well then you can do this immediately after reading this post. Grab a jar with a lid and your measuring spoons. Let’s get picklin.’
How To Make Pickles from Cucumbers or Most Other Vegetables
What are some good pickle recipes?
The following recipe for how to pickle cucumbers will also work very well if pickling whole baby onions, cauliflower florets, green beans, garlic cloves, and pretty much ANY type of pepper. I know this because the man I watched pickle using this ratio pickled just about EVERYTHING he grew. I was not ‘shown’ how to execute this method, rather I watched for over a decade before doing it myself.
Quick pickling recipes are all over the internet. Some are super involved and others not so much. I’ve tried quick pickles Pioneer Woman style, several quick dill pickle recipes, a sweet, pickled cucumber recipe, and even a quick pickle recipe from one of my mom’s old canning books. I always come back to this recipe because it’s delicious, and super silly easy.
What is the pickle making process?
First, you’ll want to use hot water and mild dish soap to wash your jar. I am using an actual pickle jar with a half-gallon capacity. It belonged to my grandmother, and I am obsessed with that color green you see in my pictures. Wash out your jar and the lid and set aside to dry. NOTE: the inside of the jar MUST be dry before you fill it.
Next, a top-notch pickle brine need not be made with A-class ingredients. I do make pickles using apple cider vinegar, spice, and salt, yes. Just take my recipe for Sweet and Spicy Pickled Red Onions I go whole hog with those onions.
But easy recipes for quick pickled vegetables can be over the top just because of their simplicity and very accurate ratios. Now, I use my mandolin for slicing my cukes. It assures me even slices. I do not want them too thinly sliced, maybe about 1/4″ thick. It helps maintain a crisp pickle past day one.
This pickle is in a class of its own with its mildly sweet, partially sour flavor profile. It’s a perfect accompaniment to BBQ and foods off the grill.
So, let’s chat for just a second on quick pickled cucumbers. What do you look for? What do you personally like best in terms of flavor? I will share that these quick cucumber pickles are only MILDLY sweet. So, it’s NOT a sweet pickle or a bread and butter pickle. These quick pickles use distilled white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will get you to a sweet pickle quickly, but remember that is not what we are going for.
This is one of my masterpiece Carolina Smoked Pulled Pork Sammies. It’s topped with my Southern-Style Molasses Barbecue Sauce as well as my Creamy Southern Coleslaw. I top it all off with a forkful of Sweet and Spicy Pickled Red Onions and of course, these gorgeous 3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles.
In this method, I’m going for a pickle that will compliment other sweet foods such as my smoked pork sandwiches. The sweet molasses sauce is evened out by these tempered cucumbers. My household does A TON of smoking on our Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker, so having a neutral smoked sandwich topper is a biggie.
Imagine a soft potato bun piled high with smoked pulled pork or burnt ends. It gets a drizzle of molasses barbecue sauce and is topped with 2 or three of these flash pickles and a few rings of Sweet and Spicy Pickled Red Onions. Swear to pete, one sandwich is not enough!
With this brine, I pickle lots of vegetables including cauliflower florets, whole baby onions, peppers of all kinds, green beans, and my brother’s favorite, garlic cloves.
Back to the flavor profile of this quick pickling recipe…distilled white vinegar dissolves granulated sugar. The ratio is 6:3 vinegar to sugar. But this would be too sweet for our purposes. So, tap water is added to further suppress the sugar and also to dilute the vinegar.
This new ratio is 9:6:3 water to vinegar to sugar. The best pickle brine recipe begins with this carefully measured and consistent ratio. Well, and a fresh cucumber of course. If you do not grow and harvest your own cukes, grab an English cucumber the next time you’re at the grocer.
Slice your cucumber 1/4″ thick. Load them into your clean, dry jar and get ready to mix the solution these will cure in. I always grab a large mixing bowl and begin with the sugar. Three tablespoons of sugar go directly into my bowl. I follow with 6 tablespoons of the distilled white vinegar, and lastly, 9 tablespoons of tap water. Use a whisk to dissolve the sugar COMPLETELY. In my video, you’ll notice how long this step may take given the video is sped up.
Once the water is clear, not cloudy, your sugar is sufficiently dissolved. Pour the lot over the cucumber slices in the jar and set the lid on it. Gently rock the jar from side to side to allow any trapped air bubbles to escape. Then, leave sit on your kitchen counter at room temperature for about an hour.
3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles can be ready in an hour. I like mine cold, so I refrigerate for an hour or two before loading up my barbecue plate.
When the hour is up, it’s time to give your pickles a stir. Notice how the cucumbers appear fewer? This is because the process, the science of pickling has already begun. At this point, any cucumber slices that were not entirely submerged before can easily be poked down into our pickling liquid and largely submerged.
Don’t worry if there are a few which are not submerged. The stir will rotate everything and further break the slices down. Pop the lid back on and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. I like mine really cold and crispy, so I like to chill for at least 1 to 2 hours. Rest assured though, if you need them immediately, they can be used after that first hour on the counter.
So, call these what you will, overnight pickles, quick refrigerator pickles, BBQ side pickles…I just call them darn fantastic!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
3 Ingredient Charleston Flash Pickles
- large jar with lid
- 1 English cucumber sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar preferably with 5% acidity
- 9 tablespoons tap water
- Fill a jar with 1 sliced cucumber. Mix 3 tablespoons of white sugar, 6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, and 9 tablespoons of water in separate bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar completely. Once the sugar is dissolved, pour over the cucumber slices. Gently rock back and forth to allow any trapped air bubbles to escape. Allow to sit, lid on, at room temperature and stir after 1 hour. Pickles will be ready, however are crisper and more delicious after several hours to an overnight refrigeration period.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.