Refrigerator Dill Pickles
I consider unprocessed pickles, those made without water bath canning, a special treat of the summer growing season. When the garden or Farmer’s Markets are overflowing with cucumbers we make enough to enjoy from summer’s end well into fall, then like most homesteaders and gardeners, we start looking forward to the next growing season. It’s not that they go bad in the fridge, but they do lose that fresh crispiness that makes them a rite of the summer harvest. If you want pickles all year long, use a recipe that calls for water bath processing, so the jars will be vacuum sealed.
Our favorite recipe is from a retired railroad conductor. It was handed down from generation to generation and couldn’t be easier.
The Jars: Thoroughly wash quart- size canning jars either by hand or in the dishwasher.
The Brine: Determine about how many quarts of pickles you will be making. Boil one quart of water for each jar, plus a little extra for evaporation. Keep brine simmering. For each quart of water, add ¾ cup distilled white vinegar and 4 heaping tablespoons of kosher salt. NOTE: Do not use reactive pots (like aluminum) for making brine, use stainless or glass for making pickles.
Packing The Jars: Wash cukes. Cut or leave whole. Layer the bottom of each jar with fresh dill and crushed or whole garlic (3 or 4 cloves, more if you want a lot of garlic flavor). Pack cukes tight into jars.
Seasoning The Pickles: To each jar, add 1 Tablespoon of pickling spice and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, or 1-2 small hot red peppers slit open lengthwise (if you like), plus plenty of fresh dill flower heads (it makes a pretty presentation).
Pour The Hot Brine: Cover everything with the simmering brine.
Put Lids On. Leave jars at room temperature for two or three days then put in the fridge for at least a week before eating. Two weeks is even better, if you can wait that long.
Storing Pickles: Pickles will keep for a couple months in the fridge. Of course, if you see anything funky going on in the jar you should not eat them.