My grandmother had a whole basement filled with pickled this and preserved that. A big garden in rural New Hampshire made it impossible to resist the urge to pickle, though I think it had more to do with her love of cooking, keeping busy, and always having backup food around. I share all of those traits with her, and I would not have it any other way. If you want to get started with pickling, this recipe is the best jumping off point. It will be almost as easy as making iced tea.
Try these with lunch the next day, or if you are like me, right after breakfast that morning. A great addition to sandwiches, they taste similar to deli sandwich pickles. The best part about refrigerator pickles is that they don’t lose their crunch! You can use any type of cucumber, but Persian are great because they are small, usually very crunchy, and are easy to find at any grocery store. What I call slicing cucumber, the foot-and-a-half-long cucumbers that sometimes have the name “hot-house”, are good but have a distinct flavor that lingers through the process. You’ll need a flavorless cucumber, and Kirby are the best of them all. Since those are super rare, except at farmers markets probably, you might want to try growing your own!
Now you’re ready to start.
Gather these items:
1 quart (32 oz) pickling jar. This will come with a special two-part metal lid. Keep it. But, buy white plastic lids as well, because the metal lid will start to rust in the fridge over time. Rusty pickles aren’t what we’re after here.
1 teaspoon. I need to write something here so you don’t wonder what ingredient you need a teaspoon of. It’s a measuring spoon!
1 tablespoon. Ditto above.
1 cup. Again, not just any cup, a measuring cup. Something that at least measures up to one cup.
1 cutting board. Self explanatory is the best kind of explanatory!
1 sharp knife.
Gather these ingredients:
6 medium-sized (6-7 inches) Persian cucumbers
1 cup distilled or filtered water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch red pepper flake (optional, they taste great without)
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
Pinch (5-8) peppercorns
Before you begin, measure and set out all of your ingredients. Everything except the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt can go into one bowl, or directly into your jar while you do the rest of the prep. As we begin the cooking, things may get hectic. Measuring beforehand is a solid way to keep your mind clear, and set yourself up for success.
Clean/sterilize your jar, cook pot, and utensils.
Wash your cucumbers. Cut off anything you don’t want in the jars; bad spots, soft spots, etc. Now cut off the stem and blossom ends, 1/4-1/8 inch works. Quarter these cucumbers lengthwise, and set aside. Cut one small clove of garlic in half and set aside. Large cloves of garlic can be cut into quarters. Set two quarters aside, and the other half can go into the fridge for garlic bread or some other delicious recipe! Being precise here will get the flavor profile correct, at least for beginners.
Place the water, vinegar, and salt into a small pot and heat until simmering. Stir to combine. When it begins to simmer, add half of the sugar, and toss the rest into your pickling jar. Bring to a boil.
While the water comes to a boil, toss the spices into the bottom of the jar (unless you already did that step). Now stuff your cucumbers in. They do not have to be packed tightly, but with some puzzle-solving skills you may be able to pull it off.
When the water is boiling, pour the brine directly into the jar. The glass will not crack. Screw on the metal lid that came with the jar, and let this sit on the counter until it comes to room temperature. When they come to room temperature, shake them or turn the jar over in your hands to get all the flavors mixed through. You should see that the green cucumber skin has turned a pickly-green! Now take off the metal lid and twist on a plastic lid. These don’t have seals, so be careful not to turn or shake the jar. Success!
A special shout out to the Imgur (pronounced “imager”) community for helping trouble shoot and suggest new ingredients! You can check those comments out here: http://imgur.com/gallery/XzZU4
Having trouble keeping your pickles wedged down? Shove a few baby carrots in between them. Problem solved, and the carrots won’t impart any flavor!
They say if you make something for someone else it is MORE delicious, so don’t forget to pass your recipe down to your children! If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know below, and if you love your version of this recipe, please leave a note with your changes!