Fresh pickles. aka belly-achers (eat too many and you'll know why.)
For every two good-size cukes, I use 1/2-3/4 cup vinegar, about 1/8 (or less) cup sugar. Stir together until the sugar dissolves. Slice an onion (sweet are best) thinly along with the cukes. Layer in the bowl, turning and stirring gently several times so everything's coated. I season lightly with a homemade seasoned salt mix and allow them to marinate (ideally for an hour or so, but I've been known to serve within five-ten minutes of whipping it together.)
If you have extra tomatoes, you can cube the tomatoes and cukes for a fresh salad in the same marinate (but a bit of olive oil is nice when you make it with tomatoes.)
It doesn't get cold enough here to safely make pickles in a crock. So I do them right in the canning jars. Several varieties every year, including sweet pickle spears, bread & butter pickles, and garlic pickles.
Check the Ball Blue Book for some basic recipes.
For a fresh dish, I like cucumber salad with paprika dressing:
Peel, halve lenghtwise, and seed 4 cukes. Slice them thinly, toss with 2 tsp. salt, and let drain in a colander at least 30 minutes.
In a bowl combine 1/3 cup white vinegar (I prefer rice vinegar), 1 small onion, thinly sliced, 2 tsp Hungarian paprika, 1 tsp dill weed, and 1/2 tsp. each of sugar and white peper. Let the dressing stand for at least 30 minutes.
Dry the cukes with paper towels and toss them with the dressing.
Lenjo, keep in mind that pickles are preserved food, so it is either in danger of poisoning someone if you don't know what you are doing, or it has so much preservative that it is not worth making it.
Anyway, an American lady has written the best book I ever read about pickles: it is called "The joy of Pickling", abd if you really want me I will find the author as well; and keep in mind, that pickling which includes fermentation depends on the temperature of the place, and what is commonplace here is impossible to do there. Good luck.
Try to use different herbs in the jars basil,citrusmeliss,basil and garlic my favorite,onion,with the cuckes you can also use carrots,beets,peppers sweet or hot or both.play and have fun.Dont be afraid of the words from michael.Put the vegs into hot jars and have your hands and other things clean if you use the right recepy you dont need any chemicals then put the jars cold and you can use them several month.
I have to agree with Roger. Canning is a safe, effective way to preserve food.
I think Dimitri is talking about open crock pickling, rather than stove top canning. Until 1810, open crock was the _only_ way of pickling foods. It's still used in many parts of the world, and in cooler areas of North America. From about USDA Zone 5 north.
Many people who make their own saurkraut, for instance, use the open crock method.
Stove top canning, using jars designed for the purpose, is a safe, effective means of preserving foods.
For long term storage of food, you have to remove the moisture content (drying), or replace the moisture with something that either kills pathogens or doesn't allow their growth. Salt and acids (vinegar, citric acid) are the most common ingredients for doing this. When an acid is used, the process is called pickling. If you use standard salt the process is called brining. If you use saltpeter, the process is called corning.
High heat (i.e., pressure canning) is another method, which is based on destroying pathogens as well as establishing an environment in which they can't grow.
Freezing is actually a short-term method. It doesn't kill pathogens, but, rather, puts them into domancy. Improper methods of defrosting frozen foods actually can cause them to spoil before the product is fully thawed.
Irridation, of course, destroys all pathogens. But it's not the sort of thing you can do in your kitchen.
The difference between stove top pickling in jars, and open crock pickling is that the open crock method allows the re-entry of pathogens. Indeed, in some cases, the method only works for that reason. However, it is generally considered unsafe by most authorities---despite the fact it's been used for hundreds of years. Possibly another case of over-regulation and standards that have nothing to do with reality.