Crunchy treats from your kitchen

How to Make Refrigerator Pickles

by Nicole Wiegand

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Not sure what to do with all those cucumbers from the garden? If the idea of traditional canning intimidates you, or you'd rather not spend a hot summer day toiling over vats of boiling water, you may want to try making refrigerator pickles instead. These crunchy treats are easy to make, economical, and delicious. Here's how to make refrigerator pickles:

  1. First, wash your cucumbers thoroughly. If you're using the smaller-sized Kirby cucumbers, you may want to leave them whole; alternatively, you can quarter your cucumbers to make classic pickle spears or cut them into slices to make pickle chips.
  2. Next, get out your jars or containers. This is not "official" canning, so you don't need to start with sterilized jars. In fact, you don't need to use jars at all, although they do work well for the size and shape of pickles. Tupperware containers, or any container with a tight-fitting lid, will serve just as well.
  3. Now it's time to prepare the brine. This recipe makes enough for about six or seven Kirby cucumbers.
    • 8 to 10 cloves of garlic (peeled)
    • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
    • 6 teaspoons kosher salt (be sure not to use iodized salt)
    • 1 teaspoon celery seed
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
    • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
    • Several sprigs of fresh dill
  4. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan and then reduce the heat and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the vinegar and salt, and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.
  5. Divide the dill, seeds, and peppercorns among the jars or containers. Remove the garlic from the brine with tongs or a slotted spoon, and divide the cloves among the jars. Fill the jars with cucumbers until they are packed tightly.
  6. Bring the brine back to a boil, pour enough into each jar to cover the cucumbers, and then seal the containers tightly and refrigerate. It's tempting to taste one as soon as they're chilled, but patience pays off. The pickles taste best if you wait a couple days before eating them.

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This type of pickle must be kept in the refrigerator at all times; they are not meant to be stored at room temperature. Properly refrigerated, they will keep beautifully for up to three months and stay much crisper than their traditionally canned counterparts.

Variations on this recipe are fun to try. You may want to adjust the amount of spices to suit your taste, or use a pickling spice blend instead of the three types of seeds listed in the recipe. If you like a pickle that packs a little heat, try adding a few dried chile peppers to your brine. Also, don't limit yourself to cucumbers when making refrigerator pickles; this brine recipe can also be used with other garden vegetables. Cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, and green beans are all delicious pickled this way!

Nicole Wiegand is a freelance writer in the New York area. She writes web content on a wide variety of subjects, from technology and internet issues to cooking and personal finance. When she's not at the computer, Nicole can usually be found knitting and spending time with her husband and children.

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