It’s hard to find a crisp pickle these days. To can crisp pickles, you need to find tiny cucumbers, about the size of your pinky finger. They’re almost impossible to buy unless you grow them yourself. For the rest of us that want a crisp pickle from farmers market cucumbers, refrigerator pickles are the best option.
Refrigerator pickles quick pickle cucumbers without canning using salt, vinegar and spices. They won’t keep in the pantry all winter, but they’ll still last for months in the refrigerator.
Start with the smallest cucumbers you can find. Smaller cucumbers mean more cucumber “meat” and smaller seed cavities. The cucumber meat is what gives a pickle a crisp bite.
Slice the cucumbers into 1/4 inch rings and pack them into jars, leaving about an inch of headspace. Since you’re not canning, the headspace isn’t critical.
Add pickling spices directly into the jar. I use peppercorns, mustard seed, coriander seed and dill seed, along with fresh dill. This is where you can really get creative.
In the past, I’ve made Herbes de Provence pickles, which used French spices like rosemary, thyme, tarragon and even lavender. With refrigerator pickles, you can make each jar unique and then test it about a week or two later. If you open it and decide it needs more salt or stronger spicing, toss that in, cap it up and give it a bit more time.
Unlike canned pickles, refrigerator pickles are flexible like that. Open them up, change things a bit, and then give them more time.
Still, even with all that flexibility, I’m still partial to my refrigerator dill pickles recipe. There’s nothing like a crisp dill pickle on a summer burger right off the grill.
Refrigerator Dill Pickle Recipe
A quick and easy way to make a pickle without canning.
- 4-5 Pounds Cucumbers preferably small
- 4 Cups Water
- 4 Cups Cider Vinegar or white vinegar, 5% acidity
- 5 tbsp Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt
- 1 Onion Thinly Sliced
- 10-15 Garlic Cloves
- 5 Dill Heads or fresh dill sprigs
- 5 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 5 tsp Dill Seeds
- 5 tsp Coriander Seeds
Slice the cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices and pack into mason jars. This recipe makes about 5 pints, and can easily be cut in half or adjusted to both smaller or larger batches.
To each jar, add 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of each of the spices. Top with a few dill sprigs, 2-3 garlic cloves and a few slices of onion.
Mix the vinegar brine together, using half water and half apple cider vinegar. For 5 pints, you'll need approximately 8 cups of liquid total. Reduce the total for a smaller batch.
Top each jar with the vinegar and water mixture, leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Tighten on the lids, and give each jar a shake to distribute the contents.
Allow at least 24 hours for the flavors to infuse, but preferably several days. For better flavor, you can bring the spices and salt to a boil with the vinegar and water, and allow it to cool before pouring over the cucumbers.