Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Let's Make Pickles!

Let's make some refrigerator pickles!

First, my disclaimer:  These are refrigerator pickles.  We are NOT going to "can" these so be aware that these pickles are NOT SHELF STABLE.  They must be stored in the refrigerator.  There is a very good reason for this.  There is not enough acid in this recipe to make canning these pickles safe.  Therefore we put them straight into the refrigerator and let them pickle there, not in the pantry.  What will happen if we put them in a water bath and seal the lids and store them on the shelf?  Probably nothing but I'm not taking that risk.  I only use canning recipes that very precise and very official scientists say have no possible chance of making my family sick.  That's how we roll in my kitchen.

Okay, NOW let's make pickles!

I picked up a nice batch of pickling cucumbers this morning at the Farmer's Market.
These are the small cucumbers that look like they have little black spiney dots on them.  Regular cucumbers don't work as well.  You can usually get these quite inexpensively.  I paid $3 for all.

Start by washing them and trimming off the ends.  I also halve or quarter them, depending on the size.

Why do I trim the ends?  The blossom end of the cucumber can contain some nasty germs that won't wash off very well.  It's a slight risk but, since these will be sitting in a brine for a few weeks before we even begin to taste them, I don't take chances.  I'd rather not contaminate an entire jar just because I was too lazy to trim an end.  I trim the other end because it fits into the jar easier and because I like to eat it.  (I actually eat both sides after I trim it off. . . Yes, I am quite the risk taker but I don't take botulism chances with my family!)

Here's the secret to crispy, crunchy pickles.  Put the cut cucumbers into a bucket of ice water for FOUR HOURS.   You can go longer if you want but it should be at least four hours.

In the meantime, wash some jars and lids.  I put them on the sanitize cycle of my dishwasher just because I'm a little bit of a germ-a-phobe when it comes to my kids' food.  There's enough nasty things already on their food. . . I certainly don't need to inadvertently grow something in a jar for them to eat, too.

For this recipe you can reuse glass jars such as pickle jars, spaghetti sauce jars or other glass containers with a tight fitting lid.  JUST WASH THEM WELL.  I use canning jars just because that's what I have on hand.

When the jars are clean and your four hours are up, start by putting some fresh dill weed, a teaspoon of dill seed and two garlic cloves into a quart jar.  If your jar holds less or more, adjust.  It's not a precise science since we're not sealing the lids and storing them on a shelf so you can adjust for taste.

Pack in your cucumbers.

You need to make the brine.  Mix six cups of water, two cups of white vinegar and 1/3 cup of pickling salt together.  Bring to a boil.  Pour hot brine over the pickles, put on your lids and let cool for about an hour.  Transfer to the refrigerator.

These babies are FABULOUS; these are by far our family's favorite pickle.  Don't forget to take a sharpie and write the date on the lid because you don't want to open them for TWO WEEKS.  It will be a long two weeks with temptation looking at you each time you open the door to the fridge but it will be worth it when you can finally eat one of these crispy, crunchy, pickled perfections. 

We can't wait!

NOTE:  There is table salt.  There's also kosher salt, rock salt, sea salt and bath salt.  Don't use any of those in this recipe.  Use pickling salt.  I'm sure there's a very good reason pickling salt is the right one to use and Google can help you figure that out if you truly care.   I do it because I prefer the taste.  This big box costs $1.50 and has lasted me three summers.

I shared this recipe on my favorite blog. . . Frugal By Choice.  Check out the other great ideas there!


  1. found you from the link party :) As a beginning gardener and canner I have been looking for a simple refrigerator pickle & here it is!! Thanks cant wait to try this with my cucumbers!

  2. I have been looking for a simple pickle recipe to make with our son Max. This looks like a winner! Thanks!!

  3. These are GREAT! We've tried a lot of recipes and come back to this one. I hate sweet pickles and I don't care for how mushy the cucumbers get in some of the recipes. I hope you enjoy them!