Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Best Refrigerator Dill Pickles

If you know me, or if you have read many of my posts, you know I’m not the most superlative person. While it does come out in some areas of my life, I’m not usually one to gush on and on about a recipe being the best [fill in the blank] I’ve ever tasted and this is my new favorite recipe of all time, etc., etc., etc.

But these pickles are the best. And the only reason I’m willing to cross into “the best” territory is because everyone with whom I’ve shared these pickles has raved about them. And not just in a polite “you gave me food so I’ll compliment it” kind of way. Effusive praise has ensued. A couple people have even gone so far as to declare these the best pickles they’ve ever eaten.

What’s so great about them? I think it’s their simplicity. You get a few fresh, quality ingredients, add a few more basic ingredients, and you’re done. The simplicity allows the freshness of the cucumbers and dill to shine through, and nothing overpowers anything else.

Bonus points: these pickles are extremely easy to make. You put some cut cucumbers in a jar and add some garlic, dill, and a couple spices to the jar. Then you dissolve some sugar and salt in vinegar and water, pour that into the jar, and you’re done.

It’s important to note that these are refrigerator pickles so, as they name suggests, they need to be kept in the fridge (they’re not shelf-stable). That means that there’s no actually canning process to go through, which means they’re super quick and not scary to make (canning still scares me). I think they taste best if eaten within a week or so, but they’ll keep up to a month in the fridge. The longer they sit, the less crunchy and more pickled they’ll get, and the more the garlic, pepper, and coriander flavors will come out.

I’ve made a lot of jars of dill pickle spears and only one jar of slices. For whatever reason, the day I was photographing pickles, my quart of slices looked more photogenic than my half-pints and pints of spears. So slices are what you see in the pictures, but spears are more what you’ll find in my fridge—and several friends’ fridges!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Yield: 2 pint jars (or 1 quart jar)
Adapted slightly from A Couple Cooks

1 lb. cucumbers
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Handful of fresh dill (6-10 sprigs)
1 Tbsp. whole coriander seeds
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt

Trim the ends off the cucumbers and quarter them into spears (or slices). If the cucumbers are long, cut them in half as well so the spears are short enough to fit in the jars.

Pack the cucumbers into two clean pint-sized mason jars, along with 3 garlic clove halves and 3-5 sprigs of fresh dill per jar. Add the coriander seeds and peppercorns to the jar.

In a suitable container, warm the vinegar, water, sugar, and kosher salt, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. I’ve done this in a glass measuring cup in the microwave, and in a small saucepan on the stove. The stove actually seems easier to me. The original recipe calls for putting everything cold into a third mason jar and shaking it until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Do what works best for you.

Pour the liquid over the cucumber goodness in the jars. Tap the jars on the counter to release air bubbles. Cover jars tightly with their lids, and refrigerate immediately. Let them hang out in the fridge for 24 hours, then dig in.

  • I was worried that I should peel the more bitter cucumbers but forged ahead without peeling because A Couple Cooks said nothing about peeling. I have not detected any bitterness at all in any of the pickles.
  • The first time I made these I had ground coriander but no whole seeds, so I sprinkled in some ground, and that was fine. For a cheaper alternative, you could probably use some fresh cilantro instead of the seeds.
  • The original recipe also calls for 4 small chili peppers (2 per jar) but I left those out.
  • This recipe is obviously very scale-able depending on how many cucumbers you have or what sizes of jars you have available.