It's cucumber season! In our house that means lots of yummy homemade dill pickles. We eat our fair share fresh off the vine, but we sure do love having crisp, homemade pickles on sandwiches all through the year.
The best thing about this recipe is how simple it is. It's more of a guide than a true recipe, and you can alter the spices or add additional spices if you'd like, to suit your own tastes. We prefer plain ol' dills in this house, though.
I've tried other pickle recipes in the past, and this method is by far my favorite. I've found that any recipes that require canning simply cause the pickles to become soft. I like the crispness this recipe leaves in the cucumbers. Plus, if I can avoid heating up the kitchen with the canner, I'm all for that!
I've also seen lots of variations of this recipe, usually concerning the spices added. Other common additions include: a bay leaf, coriander, a store-bought pickling spice mixture, and crushed red pepper flakes. I've never tried any of these, but if you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Another note: fresh dill can be used in this recipe in place of some or all of the dill seed. In our area, by the time cucumbers are coming in, the dill has long bolted and gone to seed. Since store-bought dill costs a ridiculous amount of money, we opt for dill seed instead. I don't recommend using dried dill weed; it won't give your pickles much of a flavor in my experience.
So what will you need?
Cucumbers- however many you'd like to pickle, as long as it's enough to fill at least one mason jar of your choice once they're sliced.
Apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar, but we like ACV)- enough to make a 50/50 brine with water to pour over the cucumbers.
Water- plain tap water is fine.
Garlic cloves- keep these whole. I slice thin slits into them so the flavor is released into the pickle brine. You'll want to put about one clove in a half-pint jar, two in a pint jar, and four in a quart jar, but adjust to your tastes.
Dill seed- I like to use two teaspoons in a pint jar and four teaspoons in a quart jar, but again, adjust this to your tastes.
Pickling and canning salt- I use one tablespoon per two cups of liquid. If you like saltier pickles, adjust this to your tastes as well.
Other things you'll need include a saucepan to boil the liquid, mason jars with seals and rings, and basic kitchen equipment to cut the cucumbers and garlic.
What are the steps?
The first thing I like to do is slice all the cucumbers. I cut mine into sandwich slices since this is how we most often use them, but you can cut them into spears or chunks if you'd like. When I need dill relish, I simply take out a few slices and chop them up. I like to keep mine around 1/8 of an inch thick. There's no need to be too precise here, just whatever you prefer.
Once the cucumbers are sliced I add them to the jars along with the garlic cloves and dill seed. By doing this, it gives me a good idea of how much brine to make so I don't waste it. I make my own homemade ACV and I certainly don't want to waste any of that!
Once I've got the pickles in the jar I add the water, ACV, and salt to the saucepan. For three pint-sized jars, I needed four cups total liquid; two cups each of water and vinegar. I also added two tablespoons of canning and pickling salt. Bring this mixture to a boil on the stovetop.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, turn off the stovetop and remove the pot from the heat. Allow it to stop bubbling so it's easy to pour. You can pour it directly into the jars, or if your pot doesn't pour well, you'll want to transfer the liquid into something that does. Cover the cucumbers with the brine.
Once all the jars are full you can add the seals and secure the rings. Make sure to label the jars with the contents and the date. Gently turn the jars upside down and swirl them a few times to disperse all the dill seeds. Ta-da! You made pickles! All that's left is to put those jars in the refrigerator. As long as you put them in there warm, the temperature change will seal them.
You can eat your pickles after just a few days, but they're better if they sit at least a couple of weeks. When looking for information on how long these last in the fridge, I've seen everything from a couple of weeks to a few months. I can personally say that we keep them in the fridge from one growing season to the next, anywhere from 8 months to a year, and we have never had them go bad. This is a use-your-judgement thing. If something is off, don't eat them.
Do you think you'll make your own pickles? Do you already make your own pickles? Please tell me all about it in the comments!