Homemade pickles are obviously freaking delicious, and are (perhaps less obviously) super, super simple to make. There are tons of different ways to make ‘em, but most said ways involve canning equipment that I don’t own, so I stick to making “Refrigerator Pickles”, which require nothing more complicated that a pot, a knife, and some seal-able jars (I used Matt’s Mason jars).
First, let’s select your cucumbers.
Look for dark green, firm, and heavily warted (sexy) cucumbers no more than 2″ in diameter. Buy this:
Avoid pickles with white or yellow patches; these are overripe and will have lots of seeds (you don’t want seeds). Don’t buy this:
(Above two images via Pickyourown.org.)
Like I said, there are bazillions of recipes out there, but here’s what I like (you may need to tweak the amounts of liquid ingredients depending on the size of the containers you use). All amounts below are approximate, because I just eyeball the proportions; you can be pretty laissez faire with this stuff (all pickles are good pickles, etc):
What you need:
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small, sweet onion (Vidalia works well), thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp peppercorns
- 8-10 Kirby cucumbers, quartered
- A few sprigs of dill weed or 2 tsp dill seed
- Bay leaves (optional)
What you do:
1. Combine water, sugar, vinegar, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Pack cucumber spears, onions, garlic, peppercorns and dill into sterilized jars (just boil the jars and lids in water for a bit).
3. I found a few fairly dilapidated bay leaves in my cupboard, so I added one to each jar. You can do this, or not: up to you.
4. Pour over liquid, seal, and store in refrigerator. The pickles should be ready to eat in about 24 hours, but their flavor will strengthen the longer you let them sit. You should probably eat them within the week, but I suspect that won’t pose a problem.
P.S. These make totally beautiful and unique hostess gifts, if you’re so inclined.