Here’s one of the best Dill Pickles I’ve ever eaten. I used organic, pristinely-fresh, full-size cucumbers, and store-bought dill seed, to make this a year-round quick pickle. By partially peeling and then slicing the cucumbers into spears, we now have a pickle that you can begin eating the next day. The result is a crunchy, fresh, semi-raw-tasting pickle that’s addictive. The original recipe appeared in the Dayton Daily News on August 14, 2006, but I cannot find the link and adapted my version from an old photocopy. It’s one of those popular refrigerator-pickle recipes that’s probably not approved by the FDA. However, my friend Gail has been making the original recipe for three years and nobody’s gotten sick yet, despite the fact that she refrigerates them for three to six months at a time. When you consider, for example, the crocks of sauerkraut made around the world and stored in grubby basements, I think we’ll live. You can find many recipes for refrigerator pickles online, on sites like cooks.com and people are letting them sit in the fridge for months on end and even adding fresh veg into the jars of original brine. Pickling is the oldest form of food preservation, but there’s a real rebirth of fermented foods going on here in the United States, as evidenced by the plethora of books published on the subject recently (just go on amazon.com and type in “fermented foods“). The original recipe is called “Cold Pack Dill Pickles” which is a bit of a misnomer, because supposedly, Cold Pack means using a water-bath canner instead of a pressure canner, but this simple recipe uses neither. I’ve also reduced the salt a bit, added some mustard seeds and brought the yield down from 16 pints, to two quarts, which saves a lot of time and is fine for our home consumption. Like my Pickled Red Onions, I’ll just make another quick batch when we’re out. Thank you, Gail, for the original recipe, and all the fabulous garden produce you folks shared with us last summer. Vegan Mofo 2012.
Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Makes 2 quarts.
3 large, full-size, firm, fresh, organic cucumbers
(or four medium cukes)
3.5 Cups filtered water
1 Cup distilled white vinegar
3 Tablespoons fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dill seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
To make brine:
In a large saucepan or small stock pot, add water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Heat until good and hot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Have 2 clean quart jars at the ready (or 4 pint jars).
Wash cucumbers carefully and partially peel them, leaving some green strips along the sides. If the cucumbers are from a safe, organic garden (un-waxed cucumbers), peel them only lightly for visual appeal.
Cut the ends off each cucumber.
Cut each cucumber in half the short way, and then quarter each half into long spears.
Slice away at least half of the seeds from the length of each cucumber spear.
Rinse peeled garlic halves in hot water to make sure they’re clean, and divide the garlic between the two jars.
Add 1 teaspoon of Dill seeds to each jar.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds to each jar.
Place prepared cucumber spears vertically into jars, packing them in tightly.
Fill jars with the hot brine and then tighten the lids by hand.
Wipe jars dry and place them immediately into the fridge.
Supposedly, these keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 months.
Notes: I always run my canning jars through the dishwasher with the other dishes to make sure they’re sterilized. Make sure cutting board and knives are impeccably clean, etc. The original recipe calls for chopping the garlic and adding 2 fresh dill sprigs to each jar. It did not call for heating the brine, or peeling the cukes, and it recommended letting the completed pickles/jars sit out at room temperature for 24 hours, but I was too scared to do that, especially with the garlic in there.