I have a bumper crop of cucumber this year; every day for the last week or two I’ve been harvesting one or two or more. We’re having guests for the 4th of July and I wanted to make something special to go with our hamburgers. So, not really being much of a “canning” person, I started looking at refrigerator pickle recipes.
There seem to be as many pickle recipes as there are people who make pickles, and none of them quite worked for me. I’ve never made pickles before, but I know I like a slightly spicy, not-too-salty, dill-and-garlicky mixture. So I winged it.
Here’s my recipe (it makes one quart jar of pickles; you can get single quart-sized ball jars at Michael’s stores – trust me, I looked all over and unless you want to buy a package of 12 jars, this is the way to go):
Elisa’s Homemade Refrigerator Kosher-Style Dill Pickles
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- pickling cucumbers (I used 3 standard pickling-size cukes and 2 lemon cukes; I know there are three in the photo, but that was before I cut them up and realized they wouldn’t all fit!), cut into wedges (I cut the two larger picklers into quarters and the smaller one in half, and cut the lemon cucumbers into quarters)
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp allspice seeds
- 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp celery seeds
- 2-4 medium cloves garlic, cut into long thin pieces
- 3 large sprigs of fresh dill (if you don’t have fresh dill, I’ve seen recipes that use dill seed and dry dill weed; I’m certain that those would work but obviously I haven’t experimented)
In a small non-reactive pan, bring water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool (I’m impatient and ended up putting my brine into a container in the freezer for 10 minutes to cool!). Place pepper, allspice, mustard, and celery seeds in the bottom of a clean quart-size ball jar (I can’t really figure out why but I’ve seen a couple of places say glass only; I wanted a “lightning jar” but couldn’t find a glass one… if you know where to get them new let me know!). Pack cucumbers in tightly (you may have to remove them and re-pack them a few times to get them right!). Drop garlic pieces into the jar around and between cucumbers.
Carefully pour your brine over your cucumbers, being sure to cover them completely (you should have approx. 2 cups brine after boiling and cooling and you’ll probably have a little left over), and place dill sprigs on the top of the jar before sealing very well. Turn and shake jar until seeds have distributed throughout the brine. Place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
From what I’ve read, refrigerator pickles end up “cooking” for as long as you keep them around, so they’ll get stronger and softer as time goes on, but they should last approximately 2 months when kept refrigerated (remember, these aren’t shelf-stable, as they haven’t been sealed in a water bath!). After finishing the brine and adding it to the jar over the cucumbers, my hands smelled delicious – like the perfect pickle!
It’s been 24 hours since I made these, and I just had to try one.
Truthfully it was a little salty for me (I used a heaping tablespoon, which was actually less than in a lot of recipes, but next time I think I’d use a scant tablespoon instead), and I think it’ll benefit from a longer soak to get a bit more of the dill flavor.
BUT… The pickles have a good flavor, garlicky and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness. They crunch unlike any store-bought pickle you’ve ever tasted, and they’re much, much fresher. You can really enjoy the cucumber flavor unencumbered by blue and yellow coloring. It’s SO worth making a batch of these!
OK… So it’s a couple of hours later and we just had these with BBQ sandwiches. The verdict? Hubby (a pickle aficionado) says that they aren’t salty and likes their subtlety. I had two and with food they’re really tasty. Can’t wait to see how they are with the dinner we’re having with friends this weekend!
Okay guys I know everyone loves these and I’m so glad! I just want to remind you that they are in fact refrigerator pickles. I thought perhaps they could be canned but according to all canning sites I’m seeing you need a large amount of salt to make them shelf-stable. So make these and enjoy them right from your fridge. They should last up to 3 months in there. But don’t try to “can” them in a water bath (unless you know you can prove my sources wrong, of course) and leave them on a shelf for months. Also – if they fizz when you open them, they’ve gone bad. This happened to a batch of mine that were left out for a few hours at a party and then re-refrigerated for a month. Yeah, not the best way to do things. Anyway, the batch I made for 4th of July is still excellent – it was left in the fridge this whole time and was kept nice and cold. Happy Pickling! 😉