I love pickles.
When we go to the farmers market, I’ll let the pushy pickle seller feed me sample after sample, and though sometimes I’ll put my foot down, I often allow him to send me home with a few more than I really need for my upcoming BBQ. When we go to the Renaissance Faire, my day is not complete until I have accosted a Pickle Pirate and grabbed a giant pickle, bare fisted, to chomp away at as innuendos swarm around. (If you’re heading up there for the final weekend, this weekend, or find yourself at one of the other faires across the country, I strongly recommend having a pickle in one hand and some popcorn in the other… the combination is wonderful.)
Making my own pickles has been on my mind for several months, if not a year, so when my friend recently posted on her Facebook status that she’d made pickles, I turned green with pickle envy. I think the idea of making my own pickles began last year when our farm share started sending home ridiculous amounts of dill, and occasionally some little ol’ kirby pickles, though it rarely occurred on the same week. When I saw my friend’s status about it, I commented that I was jealous, and she told me that it was so easy! I swore then and there that the next time we got dill or kirby cucumbers either in our CSA, or ran into them at the farmers market, I would make some darn pickles!
Now, mind you, I still haven’t learned how to can. I know, I know. It’s on my to-do list. I don’t have the equipment right now. But, fear not! You can make refrigerator pickles, with no canning required, and they’ll be ready to eat in as few as three days. Since my favorite kind of pickles are half-sour (boy, was I mad the year that the Renaissance Faire only had dill pickles…), I made half-sour, and since I’ve never attempted anything like this before, I decided to do myself a favor and actually mostly follow someone else’s recipe. Y’all know how I like to make up my own recipes, but I figured that this was not the time for that. Tommy J seemed to have a pretty flavorful recipe, so I went with that, give or take.
The pickles were pretty awesome! They were a mite salty, but I also opened a jar that I’d cut into spears, so it really gave the salt an opportunity to soak in. I think next time, I’ll either reduce the salt a bit, or leave them whole (they just didn’t want to fit in the jar that way, fat cucumbers that they were!).
Ingredients (for two quarts of pickles)
1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, plus a few more
a bit less than 1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. black pepper corns, plus a few more
1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
a few pieces of fresh dill
2 or 3 pieces broken dried bay leaf, plus two whole ones
5-6 cloves garlic, minced (I used two giant ones and two little ones)
1/2 cup salt
8 cups water, +/- (I say +/- because this is what the recipe called for, but I had LOTS extra)
8-9 kirby cucumbers
two clean quart jars, lids, and rings
As Tommy J says, this is a cold pack version of pickles, meaning, there isn’t any boiling or sterilizing involved… so make sure your jars are clean and you scrub down your pickles well before you start, and you don’t do any gross cross contamination during your process! When your pickles are done processing, the liquid should be fairly clear. If it’s really murky or cloudy… well, you might not want to eat those.
So, dissolve the salt in the water. Grind up most of the dry ingredients using a mortar and pestle, but leave a couple of whole seeds of each, just so your jar looks pretty. Wash the cucumbers (no, really) and put them in the jar. Put the garlic in, then the dried spices, and then pour the saltwater on top. Stuff a piece or two of dill in there, and dump in whatever whole seeds and bay leaf you have left. Make sure that the cucumbers are all the way covered by the saltwater.
Pop them in the fridge and wait a few days… it’s really that easy!