Mom and Dad brought us some cucumbers last weekend and I decided to try my hand at refrigerator pickles. They are way yummy and would work really well for okra, too. I slightly modified a recipe found at The Creekside Cook:
- 2 quarts of water
- 1 cup white or cider vinegar
- ½ cup pickling salt
- About 3 to 4 pounds of cucumbers – small pickling cukes are best
- 8 large heads of dill, or more if they are smaller
- 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 4 pinches red pepper flake (I didn’t use this)
- about 20 black peppercorns (I didn’t use this, either)
- This will make about 4 quarts of pickles, so you need 4 1 quart jars with lids, or more if they are smaller. Canning jars aren’t necessary, but they do need a lid. Wash in hot soapy water and rinse well [or run through the dishwasher].
- Measure the water, vinegar and salt into a 3 quart sauce pan and set over high heat – you want the salt to dissolve and the mixture to come to a full boil. (I just popped mine into the microwave for a few minutes — just long enough to dissolve the salt).
- Meanwhile, make sure your cucumbers are good and clean. Cut them however you like – the smaller the pieces, the more that will fit in a jar. I like spears, because they are pretty to serve, though if I end up with a lot of odd sized cucumbers, chunks may work better. (We did spears, long slices, hamburger slices, and chunks)
- In the bottom of each jar, place 1 large head of dill, or several smaller ones. You can also put in some of the fronds and stems. Then put 1 garlic clove in the bottom. (I used 2-3 garlic cloves)
- Fill each jar with cucumbers – for spears, it might be easier to lay the jar on its side. You can really cram them in there tightly, but leave a good inch of headspace at the top, so that the brine will be able to cover the pickles.
- Top the cucumbers in the jars with another clove of garlic, as well as another large head of dill. You can just leave it at that, or for a little more complexity of flavor, add a scant teaspoon of mustard seed, a pinch of red pepper flake and 5 peppercorns to each jar. (Instead of another clove of garlic, I used a heaping teaspoon of chopped, canned garlic. I also added a heaping teaspoon of mustard seed and dried dill seed. No red pepper flakes or peppercorns for this batch).
- Carefully fill each jar with the boiling water/vinegar/salt mixture, making sure to get the cucumbers completely covered. (Again, I didn’t boil my brine and it turned out just fine).
- Screw on the lids.
- Leave the jars out in the counter for 2 or 3 days, and then store in the refrigerator for at least two weeks before opening them. (I refrigerated mine immediately and was chowing down on them the next day).
- They will keep well for several months at least, so long as you keep them refrigerated.