Friday, August 28, 2009

Homemade refrigerator pickles

It's been a couple weeks since I made my own refrigerator pickles. And I can say, after consuming a few spears, that I am now ready to share with you the recipe I used and my (rather painful) experience.

I love love love pickles (dill, garlic, spicy...I'm game. As long as they are not sweet. Get that crap away from me). I happened upon a beautiful batch at the farmer's market and thought, " hard could it be to make my own?" I mustered up some adventurous spirit, grabbed several pickling cucumbers (and fresh dill) and began my recipe search.

I thought this recipe sounded the best for what I wanted - just a simple, easy to prepare dill pickle. I didn't want to mess with all the canning intricacies, so the "refrigerator" version was perfect. After reviewing ingredients, I had almost everything on hand except for mason jars and pickling spice mix (you can buy this pre-made. I thought it would be a safe bet for a first-time pickler).


Well, the pickling spice mix proved to be an endangered species. According to some knowledgeable pickle-making people, this stuff sells out early in the season and isn't restocked in the grocery stores.

Alright, a little bump in the road but nothing I couldn't handle. I would make my own spice mix (as provided in the recipe) and go from there.

On a warm, Wednesday afternoon, after putting Peanut down for her nap (both important points to the story), I got to work. Here is the recipe in its entirety (my comments are in red italics).

Refrigerator Pickle Spice Mix Recipe

Ingredients You Will Need:
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
⅔ cup fresh dill weed (packed tight)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Combine the spices together just before making pickles.

Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Ingredients You Will Need:
3 cups white vinegar
Pickling spice mix listed above
Sterilize your pickle jars by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes.
I ran the jars and their lids through the dishwasher. This seemed to work just fine for my purposes.

Wash the cucumbers, and then soak them in an ice water bath for two hours.
Not wanting to wait 2 whole hours, I buried them in a lot of ice - and a little water - and cut the time down to one hour.
After two hours of soaking, slice the pickles into either quarters or in slices, depending on how you like them. I wasn't sure which to go with, so I did a couple whole pickles, some spears and some slices. All in all, a total of 5 (big) pickles.
Bring 3 cups of vinegar to a slow boil in a glass or coated metal pot (do not use a metal pot, as it will react with the vinegar) and add spice mix listed above. Mix well.
It was a warm day, so the A/C was on. What does this mean? A/C on, windows closed...and dear jebus, it was the wrong thing to do. If you learn anything from me ever in your life, please note that VENTILATION IS ALWAYS YOUR FRIEND. Boiling vinegar is one thing, but adding mustard seeds, peppercorns and dill...Instant.Searing. Eye. Pain. It's like chopping up a fresh onion - except you pour the onion juice directly into your eyes. Yeah...that kind of pain.
And Peanut was sound asleep and far away from the toxic fumes. So, no worries there.

Pack the cucumbers into the jars as tightly as you can (yes, pack 'em in there as best you can. They will float), and then pour the simmering pickling mix into the jars on top of the pickles. Cover the jars, and let the jars rest for a few hours, until the pickles reach room temperature. Then, put them in the refrigerator, and leave them for one week before eating them. I'm very impatient and didn't think I'd make it a whole week without cracking a jar open, but by Saturday I had forgotten all about them. It wasn't until the next Thursday that I remembered and ran to our spare fridge to try them out. See what happens when a Mom Of Very Little Memory makes pickles?
(sorry about photo quality...taken with my cell phone)

(and that dark spot is a big hunk of dill. I think next time I'll put that part in the jar first, then the pickles)

* * * * *

I am stating for the record that I could have made some mistakes while prepping this batch. Heck, I was half-blind most of the day. So, you may get an entirely different type of pickle out of this recipe. Who knows. But I will say my batch are not mild pickles. Fortunately, I like the sour punch-you-in-the-face flavor these pickles have, so it all turned out OK for me.


Kerry said...

How have we been BFFs (omg!!) for 13 years (yeah, we ARE that old!) and I never knew you didn't like sweet pickles? It's like I don't even know who you are...

That recipe sounds awesome!! I'll have to give it a try.

C. Beth said...

Yaaay, the pickle recipe! I saw it in my reader, and got a pickle craving, so Chickie and I were both eating dill pickles as I read your post. :) Bookmarking it!!

surprised mom said...

I ADMIRE you for going to all the trouble making your own pickles. However, and now that I have a pickle craving, I'm heading out to the store to buy my favorite kind.
I'm not a spicy kind of girl, but I do like dill pickles. However, they can't be "punch you in the face" sour. That's a bit much for me.