Summer is in full swing, and there’s nothing like eating food you’ve grown yourself. If you are like me and go buckwild with your Spring planting, then by now you are waist-deep in cucumbers. Refrigerator pickles are an easy way to deal with this problem, and you can unload your overabundance of cucumbers on unsuspecting neighbors, family, and friends. There’s no right way or wrong way to make pickles – just play around with the spices and season to taste.
Serving Size: Makes 3 Quarts (or 6 pints). The instructions that say “per jar” are assuming quart jars. If you are making pints, do the math.
Canning Note: If this is your first attempt at canning, I’m going to break you in gently. Most supermarkets sell canning supplies like jars, lids, pickling salt, etc. There are two main brands of canning supplies: Ball and Kerr. They are both fine. I prefer Ball wide-mouth jars for cold pickling, which is what we’re doing here, because they have a lip where you can wedge your cucumbers in and they’ll stay put. You should run your jars through the dishwasher on high heat to clean them, and you should use new lids. Canning lids are not reusable, and don’t ever let anyone tell you they are.
Kirby cucumbers – Be sure to use fresh cucumbers (garden, farmers market, etc.) because cucumbers from the supermarket have a wax coating.
3.5 c. filtered water
2-2.5 c. vinegar (white or AVC, depending on the flavor you prefer)
5 Tbsp. pickling salt (Do not use iodized salt)
10-12 garlic cloves, smashed (3-4 per jar)
6 tsp. dill seed (2 per jar)
6 tsp. pickling spice (2 per jar)
crushed red pepper (1 pinch per jar, optional)
Wash cucumbers to remove dirt and debris. Slice off the blooming ends (the end that’s not attached to a stem.) Discard the ends.
Slice. I like to do a few jars of hamburger chips and a few jars of spears. If you feel inclined, you can buy a handy dandy pickle knife or mezzaluna with the wavy, crinkle blade for making the ridges in the hamburger chips. It’s neato.
Mix the water, vinegar, and salt until the salt is dissolved. I prefer to do this in a pitcher so I can just pour the mix into the jars later.
Add the dill seed, pickling spice, and garlic to each jar.
Layer in the pickle chips, or pack in the spears until the jar is filled snugly. You want them packed tight but not squished so when you add the brine, you don’t get any floaters.
Fill jars with brine until it’s just below the rim. Make sure you have at least 1/4″ of brine above your pickles. If you get floaters, use a fork to wedge them back underwater. You can’t have any cucumbers exposed to air.
Gently tap the jars on the counter to remove air bubbles.
Cover jars with cheesecloth or with lids slightly ajar, and let them be for 24 hrs.
After 24 hrs, screw on the lids and refrigerate.
Please note: Our canning exercise today is not a sterile endeavor, and these pickles are not shelf-stable. They must be refrigerated. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
One of the fun things about pickling is that you can flavor the pickles with all kinds of ingredients. Use some sugar, add a segment of fresh horseradish, sliced onion or green pepper, try some tumeric or mustard seed. The sky is the limit.
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