Two Approaches to Refrigerator Pickles – Easy + Quick!

Refrigerator PicklesLet me begin this post be stating: I love dill pickles. The whole family does. I only made one batch last year, and it was gone within a week.

And so… we began the summer with 3 lovely cucumber plants and dreams of a bountiful harvest, leading to a plethora of homemade pickles. We headed away on vacation in June with multiple very-promising cucumbers starting to appear. I felt buoyant with hope.

Upon our return, I found only one left. And within days it had disappeared down the gullet of some little backyard creature. Most of whom have decided our garden is their personal Vegas buffet. Meanwhile, the plants looked battered and yellow – and no more cukes appeared.

Thankfully, we have a lovely Farmers’ Market here in town and at least one vendor who has beautiful, perfect, little pickling cucumbers. And so I happily bought a small bundle and headed home to experiment.

This year I decided to try several different approaches to see if we could determine – as a family – what our preferred method of pickling might be. It had to be easy. It had to be dilly. And it had to be quick.

I found the perfect recipe via Rodale News and decided to fiddle with it a bit. The results, thus far, have been leading to happy dances in the kitchen during daily consumption of dills. Hope you like ’em too!

I encourage you to read the article because there’s lots of great info in there about pickling in general, saving the juice, trying different veggies, etc. These recipes reflect my fiddling – sometimes with intention, sometimes not. 😉

Essentially, I used a different kind of vinegar (not on purpose), much more dill (on purpose), and a bit more garlic (also on purpose). I also decided to try two methods: one using fresh dill sprigs, the other using dill seeds from our local Spice House.

Finally, we decided to try make spears and chips. And I did a batch of thin chips, as well as small but thick chips. The results: We’re enamored with the spears, and prefer the thick chips to the thin. (But they’re all pretty delicious!)

*     *     *

Fresh dill sprigsRefrigerator Pickles with Fresh Dill
When I use fresh dill, I use LOTS of it. I bought a bunch at the Farmers’ Market, along with 12 small pickling cucumbers (3-4 inches long). This yielded a quart-size jar of spears and a pint-sized jar of chips. The spears got 2/3 of the bunch of dill, the chips the remaining 1/3.

The amounts below are for a quart-sized jar of pickles; however, if you want to fill pints instead or are just making a smaller batch based on what you have on hand, you can halve all the ingredients and it will come out perfectly.

8 small pickling cucumbers
generous bunch of fresh dill (roughly 2/3 cups)
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 1/2 tsp to 1 Tbsp sea salt, pickling salt, or Kosher salt (I’d go less at first and see what you think)
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup warm water

  • Wash and sanitize your jar and lid using the sanitize setting of your dishwasher, boiling water, or hot/soapy water. Let dry completely. (You needn’t worry about the type of jar or lid, but you do want a good seal.)
  • Place/cram the fresh dill down into the base of the jar. A little gentle shoving is okay. Drop in the smashed garlic. Then, place your cucumbers inside. Spears can go in vertically; chips can go in any which way.
  • Combine the vinegar, warm water, and salt. Stir until salt has completely dissolved.
  • Pour the liquid into the jar. If all is right with the world, it should fill up the jar just to the top, with perhaps 1/4-1/2 of an inch to spare. If this doesn’t happen, don’t panic. It will be okay.
  • Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Pop the whole thing into the fridge and give it a good shake every time you open the door. It can become a fun family activity or little reward: Who gets to shake the pickle jar?
  • I recommend waiting for 24 hours before eating, but you can really start as soon as you like. 24 hours is ideal; however, after which you can continue to eat them for up to 3 weeks. It’s fun to taste how they change a bit each day!

Dill SeedRefrigerator Pickles with Dill Seeds
This is the first year I’ve used dill seeds. It yields a slightly different-tasting pickle, but one that is still quite delicious. Given the less pungeant nature of the seeds, I’m adding in some additional ingredients to punch up the flavor. Again, this recipe yields 1 quart. If you want to use a pint-sized jar, just halve everything.

6-8 small pickling cucumbers (or one very large cucumber)
1 tablespoon dill seeds
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1-2 small onions, peeled and sliced thin
1-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp sea salt, pickling salt, or Kosher salt
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup warm water

  • Follow the exact same process as above to prepare your jar.
  • Place the dill seeds, garlic, onions, and pepper into the jar. Top with the cucumbers in whatever shape/form you wish to pickle them (I’d recommend spears or medium-thick chips).
  • Combine the water, vinegar, and salt. Pour into the jar.
  • Lid, shake, and refrigerate. Just like the fresh dill, these will start to taste good within as little as 6-8 hours. Wait at least 24 for more potency. And enjoy for up to 3 weeks – shaking as you consume!

 

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