Summer arrived here in southeastern Michigan with a bang [and has subsequently left again, go figure]. Two weeks of hot, hot weather sent our vegetable garden into overdrive. The abundance of cucumbers led me to seek recipes to use these green beauties in new ways. I was always told pickles were made from pickling cucumbers…only. Why? Aren’t pickling cucumbers still cucumbers? I know, I know they are a slightly different species than the typical garden variety cuke, but one should still be able to “pickle” them in some way! The answer…Refrigerator Dill Pickles. I made 10 pint sized jars [I doubled the recipe] in less than an hour. Added bonus ~ they’re ready to eat in a mere 48 hours. It doesn’t get much easier than that. The final product is nice and crisp. The pickling seasonings used give them a nice “New Kosher Dill” taste. They are delicious! I made a few jars of spears and the rest are slices. I love the dill slices on a grilled hamburger, and we certainly get our share of burgers in during the summer months. An advantage of the refrigerator variety of pickles is the abandonment of the water bath. You still use clean/sterilized containers [dishwasher fresh is fine]. You don’t have to use the water bath to seal the jars because they are stored strictly in the refrigerator. They will keep for a couple of months too.
To magically turn cucumbers into pickles get the brine started first. This way it can cool off a bit before pouring in the cucumber packed containers. All you need to do is add all the brine ingredients in a saucepan and heat it up!
Once the brine begins to boil, let it boil for about 5 minutes or so; turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Let it sit while you prep the cucumbers.
If you have a mandolin the cucumbers can be sliced in jiffy. If not, a good sharp knife and a cutting board will get the job done. For the slices, I cut mine 1/4″ thick. For the spears, I cut each cucumber in half [so I had 2 “shorter” pieces], then each half into 16 spears.
Once you get your containers filled, the brine should be the perfect temperature to pour over the cucumbers. I fill mine using a ladle and a funnel. I use a funnel because I tend to “pour and splash” otherwise! All of the morsels of goodness in the brine should be on the bottom of the saucepan, so make sure you stir it well each time you fill the ladle. You don’t want all the garlic, peppercorns, etc to end up in the last container only 🙂 When you have all of the jars filled, place the lids on and put them in the refrigerator. Remember, they need 48 hours to hit their “prime pickle” state. Enjoy!
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
2¼ cup distilled white vinegar
3¼ cup water
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 cloves garlic, minced [or to taste, if you’re a garlic lover – go for it]
5 sprigs fresh dill [or to taste]
2 quarts cucumbers [approximately 6 medium sized, sliced or speared]
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seed, celery seed, coriander seed and garlic in a saucepan, this will be your brine.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Let the brine boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
As brine cools, pack containers [I used pint-sized Ball jars] with the prepared cucumbers and add a sprig or two of dill. I placed one small sprig in the middle of the cucumbers and a second on top.
Once brine is cool to the touch, pour into jars to cover cucumbers. Make sure you stir before each ladle of brine so the seasoning is more equally divided between the containers.
Cap with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating.
Makes approximately 5 pints.
Recipe adapted from http://www.hgtvgardens.com