I was always the kid with a book under my nose. During summer break I would consume books in the same way I would consume pickles--one after another, an endless appetite. In fact, books and pickles were often in my hands at the same time. With a book in my left hand and a whole pickle in my right, I would sit on the green swing-set in our backyard and read all afternoon, snacking on pickles.
Then there was the time I went to Las Vegas on a practically-all-expenses-paid birthday trip for my best friend Abbie. Her dad, our host, is a Vegas expert and took us to lunch at Stage Deli. I can't remember which casino it was in (anyone know?) and we had an assortment of all-things-pickled as an appetizer at our table. I didn't know you could pickle just about anything. My love affair with pickles of any kind was reaffirmed. Adults love pickles too.
I think this passion for pickles runs deep through my veins. My grandma always tells stories about her father tipping the pickle jar back to get the last drops of juice. Tim's grandmother Patsy makes legendary pickles. When we were at our family reunion earlier this month, his grandpa Pete was telling stories about a seven-or-eight-year-old Tim and his cousin Nick slicing cucumbers straight from Pete's garden, readying the vegetables for Patsy's family recipe. It makes sense to me that our grandparents and great grandparents would be fond of pickles. Pickling is a great way to preserve produce in order to have some vegetables during the off-season.
I gave you a sneak peak two days ago and I'm happy to report that my first venture into pickling was a huge success. This recipe was a good baby step into making pickles, and the incredibly tasty results have given me confidence to try more recipes and techniques.
After a bit of googling I learned that our cucumbers were less than ideal for making into pickles. The fact that they had begun turning white means that they would have a lot of seeds--apparently undesirable in pickling. Frankly, this didn't bother me at all. I can't remember having seedless pickles? Or even pickles with small seeds. My advice for this recipe is that the amount or size of seeds was not important.
We bought our jars from Meijer. They were in the cooking section and there were stacks and stacks of pint size jars available. We also picked up a Ball Canning starter kit, but we haven't used it yet. (More on Ball and canning coming up--I'm going to a Ball-sponsored luncheon here in Cincinnati to learn how some canning techniques at the end of July!)
To make sure that there was no contamination in the jars or lids, you can run them in the dishwasher with hot water and detergent or just wash them in very hot soapy water in the sink. We let them dry on the counter on a clean paper towel.
While the jars and lids were drying, we sliced the cucumbers into quarters (and some of them into eighths depending on their size). You could also slice them in "chips" like Arena of The Nerd's Wife.
Put a sprig or two of dill in the bottom of each jar. Then start filling the jars with your cucumber spears. We packed as many as we could into each jar.
We ended up filling 4 jars to the brim. I can't really remember how many cucumbers we used--it was probably around 10 but they were really fat. The girth of your cucumbers will determine the number you slice.
Mince up 3 or 4 garlic cloves and sprinkle those on top of the spears. Tim, being the glutton for punishment that he is, wanted to make a jar of spicy dill pickles.
So he dumped some red pepper flakes onto the top of one of the jars (I wouldn't let him do it for any more than one!) and those are an experiment!
In a pitcher, you mix together water, apple cider vinegar, and salt. At first it will be cloudy but when the salt dissolves completely it will be a clear liquid. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers in each jar so that the cucumbers are completely submerged. For us, this solution filled four jars exactly.
And then you put the lids on them and put them in the refrigerator. No boiling water bath. No fuss. Just wait two days and then test. I finally was able to taste them today and I was kind of surprised at how crisp, salty, garlicky, and incredible these were. They were exactly the flavor and texture that I love when I get a pickle at the deli and so simple to make. I tasted one of the spicy spears and they had a hint of spiciness, but I think maybe they just need some more time in the jar with the pepper flakes to marinate.
If you try these out, let me know how it goes!
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
as seen on Annies Eats and adapted from Delicious Meliscious
makes 4 pint-size jars
cucumbers, cut into spears or chips
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp kosher salt
6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups water
Wash your jars and set aside to dry. In a pitcher, mix together salt, vinegar, and water. At first it may be cloudy but as you mix it will become clear. Put a sprig or two of dill in the bottom of each jar. Add the cucumbers and garlic. Pour the liquid into the jars until the cucumbers are submerged and there is 1/4 inch space at the top. Screw on the lids and refrigerate for 2 days.
Best if eaten within 1 month.
If you prefer a less salty pickle, only use 2 tbsp salt. If you would like to try a spicier pickle, add red pepper flakes and allow to marinate for additional days.