Not Enough Cucumbers
This is one of the most frustrating things about gardening: waiting. We planted about about 9 pickling cucumber plants this year. They have been flowering for a few weeks now, but I can not get more than 3 or so pounds at a time. Up until this week, I have been able to make 7 pints of bread and butter pickles. We’ve had a very hot June (temps in the mid to upper 90’s) and the garden has not been too happy about it. So, when I only harvested 3 lbs of cukes this week, I decided to heck with it; I’m making refrigerator pickles!
Unlike processed pickles, refrigerator pickles go into your fridge to marinate. I don’t know about you all, but canning is not my absolute favorite thing to do. In fact, I only process jars if I have several dozen to do. I can not justify boiling a huge pan of water and heating up the house for a few jars. This is why refrigerator pickles are a great alternative!
This year we also grew a bunch of dill. They have since passed their peak and not we are letting the seeds set on the plant. We are some pickle eating fools in this house and dill is a favorite. After dill flowers, it sets these pretty yellow-green seeds. You have to wait until those seeds turn brown and dry before you harvest. We have enough dill seed for dozens of jars of pickles; just need the cucumbers to cooperate and produce!
The Best Pickle Flavorings
In addition to salt, vinegar and dill, I like my pickles with an extra kick to them. We have several chili peppers growing in the garden. I decided to go with serrano. The hot pepper definitely has a kick to it, but it’s not so overwhelming that you do not taste the fruitiness of the pepper. You can use any chili pepper you like or even crushed red pepper. As with almost anything I cook, I included our homegrown garlic.
How to Make Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Start with 3 lbs of pickling cucumbers (like ‘Kirby’). Wash them thoroughly and slice them lengthwise. Even though you will not be processing the cans in a hot water bath, you will still need to sterilize them. Soak them in boiling water or run your jars and lids through a dishwasher cycle (high heat). Once they have been sterilized, add the dill seeds, garlic and chili at the bottoms of each jar. You will need three pint mason jars for this recipe.
Add the vinegar, water and salt to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the salt is dissolved. Pack in the sliced cucumbers. Get them in there tight, but not so tight that you bruise the cucumbers. It’ s fine if your cucumbers are not perfect spears. I wedged the smaller ones in between larger ones and added some small ones on top. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the sliced cucumbers. Make sure you leave a 1/2 in of headspace in the jar (fill to just below the threaded part of the jar). Add the lids and let them cool slightly. Stick them in the frig for at least 48 hours before you sneak one. How long will they last? About 2 months. However, in my house, I’ll be impressed if they make it a week!