I’ve always had a love for the bite that vinegar provides… green olives, salt & vinegar chips, pepperonchinis, and of course pickles. As a kid I use to devour the green olives my grandmother would place out with the antipasti plates. Lunchtime at another grandma’s and I’d usually have a few bread & butter pickles on my sandwich. As I got older my vinegar tastes ventured, trying various types of pickled cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and carrots to name a few. Anything with an extra kick of acid usually did the trick for me (and still does!).
My husband and I use to buy your typical pre-made relish and refrigerated pickles from the cooler isle at the grocery store. Since our lifestyle changes have taken place, we’re steering away from pre-made processed items. Unpronounceable ingredients, crazy levels of highly processed sodium, blue #2 and red #6… or something of that nature. The point was that we had farm fresh local ingredients in our very backyard. With those items, a few herbs, spices, and some acid… we’ve got a pickled party! All for a fraction of the cost but more importantly you know where every ingredient came from and you can probably pronounce them too. The cost goes down even more if you’re able to grow and dry your own herbs and spices and make your own vinegar. I am not there yet, so until then, I’ll depend on quality herbs, spices, and vinegar from the market.
Pickled cucumbers (aka pickles) is the first vegetable I’ve attempted to pickle. What is pickling you ask? I’ll let the experts (or so they say) tell you… The following recipe can be used in both a water bath canned application, or my favorite… refrigerator pickles (I’ll have instructions for both applications below). There is nothing like that cold, vinegar crunch of a fresh refrigerator pickle. Waiting a few days for the vinegar and spices to penetrate those crunchy green spears is the hardest part of the entire process. I usually have a half-dozen quart jars in my fridge at any given time during the height of the season because I’m a fanatic over the fresh variety. Since the season is not year round, we can the rest. I use the canned pickles with other pickle varieties to make a homemade relish. They go perfect on sandwiches and in my favorite homemade potato salad. I’m looking forward to more pickling and preservation adventures this year as the growing season is in full bloom! Here is my take on the pickle. A spicy, garlicy, dill spear of delight…enjoy!
PS – this is a combination of recipes I’ve viewed over the years. Check them out and see which ones you like best… or switch them up like I did… you can’t go wrong; and please feel free to share if you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to see me try! The Savory Spoonful, David Lebovitz, Serious Eats
* = organic
*^ = organic/local
Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles (Canned or Refrigerator)
Note: The amount in this recipe is for 1 quart jar. You can double triple, and even quadruple the recipe without issue.
- 3-5 pickling cucumbers per jar *^ (depending on the size and how you cut them to fit in the jars)
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup vinegar (you can reduce this to 1/2 cup if you like less of a vinegar punch – I LOVE vinegar so the more the better)
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon whole pepper corns
- 2 crushed fresh garlic cloves *^
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dill (you can replace the dried with a couple of sprigs of fresh dill if you have access to it)
- 1 teaspoon sugar *
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Step 1: prepare your jars and lids according to your manufacture’s recommendations. You can sterilize the jars in the dishwasher or a good HOT soapy water wash does the trick too.
Step 2: prepare your cucumbers. Wash and slice the cucumbers. Take off the ends because there may still be a stem or flower leftover from picking. You can half or quarter your cucumbers. Some can even be left whole, all depending on your consumption likes.
Step 3: measure spices and add to the jar(s). Crush garlic and add to the jar(s).
Step 4: add to jar(s) your sliced cucumbers. Fill in as many as you can but make sure that the cucumber does not go above the 1 inch head of the jar. This is to ensure that your cucumber is covered with liquid. Squeeze them in…it’s ok!
Step 5: in a sauce pan add in water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat on high, stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Taste the mixture…too salty…add a little more sugar…too sweet…add a little more salt…not enough vinegar…add more…too much vinegar…add water. It’s easy to adjust according to your taste.
Step 6a FOR REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat and let rest till cool. Once cooled, add the liquid to the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Place the jar(s) in the refrigerator and let sit for 5 to 7 days; each day giving the jar(s) a light shake distributing the spices. It’s really hard to wait for these crisp tangy pickles…but if you can withstand the 5 to 7 day wait, you’ll be in for a great treat. Pop open that jar and enjoy. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Step 6b FOR CANNED PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat, and slowly pour the liquid into the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Seal the jars with the manufacturer lid and band, tight but not too tight because you want to allow air to escape in the sealing process. Add the sealed jars to a hot water bath and bring to a full hard boil for 15 minutes for quart jars, 10 minutes for pint jars. Make sure the level of the boiling water is roughly 1 inch above the lid of the jar. After the processing time, remove the jars from the water bath and place on cool dry surface away from obstructions – ensuring 24 hours of quiet rest time for the jars to properly seal. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year…or enjoy immediately… just note, these pickles will not be as crunchy as the refrigerator pickles because of the heat exposure during the canning process.
Chop and add to your favorite potato or pasta salads, make homemade relish adding in sweet pickles, enjoy on sandwiches, or as a snack all by itself…enjoy!!