Wednesday, August 21, 2013
No-Can Dill Pickles
Most people don't think of making their own pickles. And, if you have to "can" them (which means put them in jars and and make sure the food is prepared such that it stays safe to eat after sitting on your kitchen shelf), how many people are going to bother? Canning can be fun but it's definitely a whole lot of work.
Then there are these easy refrigerator pickles. You make them and they will keep in your fridge for about 4 months. After that, they start getting mushy. No jars, no hot brine. And the amount you make isn't too much more than a jar of dill pickles. They are quite tart, and deliciously dilly if you use fresh dill. You can use dried dill but it's not the same. Remember: if you buy a bunch of dill and only use a few sprigs for this recipe, chop up the rest and stick it in a small bag in the freezer. It keeps its fresh dilly flavor much better than dried dill and you get your money's worth out of a bunch of dill. For more tips on herbs, check out this post from a couple of years ago.
You need to use unwaxed cucumbers which aren't that hard to find. If you have a garden, all your cukes are unwaxed. :-) If you don't have a garden, English cucumbers, the long skinny ones that are wrapped in plastic, are unwaxed. The other nice thing about the English cucumbers is they are seedless.
This is a great time of year to make pickles because cucumbers are usually quite a bargain in late summer.
Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
(makes about 4 cups)
1 ½ pounds unwaxed cucumbers, scrubbed well
1 Tablespoon table salt
several sprigs of fresh dill
about 1 cup natural rice vinegar + 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar or use all seasoned rice vinegar (sushi vinegar) for a little more sweetness
Slice the cucumbers thinly with a knife or a food processor. Layer the cucumber slices with the salt in a colander set in the sink. Place a plate on top and a heavy can on the plate to weight down the cucumber. The salt draws out the water and the weighted plate squeezes it out. Let stand for 1 hour. Rinse the slices with cold water to remove the salt and drain well. Layer the cucumber with the dill sprigs in a 4 cup tall container that covers tightly. Pour in enough vinegar to cover cucumber completely, which should be 2 cups. Refrigerate. Best if you let them soak up the dilly vinegar for at least 24 hours.
Delicious by themselves or on sandwiches.
From Preserving in Today's Kitchen by Jeanne Lesem, Henry Holt and Company, 1992.