There are two kinds of pickles in this world: pickles that get most of their flavor from the seasonings and pickles that get there flavoring from fermenting. Most of the pickles out there get their flavor from the seasonings. The pickles are either refrigerated or canned right away in order to prevent bacteria from growing. With fermented pickles, aka Sours, good bacteria is encourage. The bacteria helps give the pickles their sour taste, sort of like the additional kick sourdough bread at work.
Sour pickles are my favorite type of pickle, but I haven’t had much making. Refrigerator pickles are a lot easier to make. Their flavor comes from the seasoning you soak them in. I have tried some recipe that call for pouring the hot water vinegar mixture over the pickles, but I find that it gives the pickles a weird taste and ends up “cooking” the dill. It might just be what you are used too.
I found two good recipes, one at the Homesick Texan and the other at Coconut & Lime. I synthesized the two and came up with a pretty good recipe. I worked with a larger batch so I just scaled everything up. You want to make sure the amount of salt, water and vinegar all stay proportional.
A couple notes, you want to try and use Kirby cucumbers. They are smaller and are usually un-waxed. Also, go for kosher salt. It doesn’t have iodine like table salt, which can make the pickles darker in color.
Dill Refrigerator Pickles
- 1 1/2 lbs Kirby cucumbers (sometimes labeled pickling cukes), cut in half lengthwise
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
- 2 cups cold water
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 good handful of fresh dill (maybe a cup?)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes or a dried red hot pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Place all the seasonings in the bottom of a 2 or 3 quart jar. Add the cucumber halves, stacking as you go. The basic thing to try and arrange them so they don’t float around too much.
- Measure out the vinegar, water and salt in a separate container and stir until the salt dissolves.
- Pour the liquid into the jar containing the cucumbers. Make sure the liquid covers all of the cucumbers. Mix up another batch if necessary.
- Seal the lid tightly and shake for about a minute. Now find a good home for the jar in your ‘fridge
- Wait for 6 or 7 days, giving the jar a good shake each day.