One of the funny incidents I remember from my early days of being an aunt is when my brother-in-law convinced his son that the large uncut watermelon on the table was a big dill pickle. I remember the little boy–who is now grown up with kids of his own to tease–chortling over the size of the “big dill pickle” in front of him. He obviously liked pickles, and so do I.
When the cucumbers start coming in from my garden faster than my family can eat them fresh, I make refrigerator pickles. Although I’m interested in canning, I have not really felt the need yet to delve into it. Refrigerator pickles are easy–no special jars with new canning lids needed and no hot water bath. I have two killer recipes, one sweet and one dill, that have served me well through several years of abundant cucumber harvests.
The dill pickle recipe I use is a childhood favorite. These are the pickles my mom made when I was growing up in Chicago, and we loved them! Here is the recipe.
BABUSHA’S BARREL-CURED PICKLES
You do not need a canning jar with canning lids, but the larger the jar, the better. The one my mom passed to me holds a gallon plus 2 cups. I see no reason why you couldn’t use a large plastic container with a cover.
- 10-11 cups water
- 6 tablespoons salt
- cucumbers, whole
- 1 tablespoon dill seed [I always use fresh dill; see note.]
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- 3 whole bay leaves, 3-4
- 3-4 garlic cloves (to taste), peeled and sliced
- Add salt to water and boil for 2-3 min. Cool.
- Wash cucumbers thoroughly. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4 inch of stem attached. [Mom would sometimes cut them in half to fit more into the jar; however, this tends to make them come out mushy rather than crunchy. But perhaps the mushiness came from not cutting the blossom end; I’ve since learned (from Extension Service websites about canning) that it contains an enzyme which causes pickles to soften.] Add garlic and herbs and spices to jar, too.
NOTE: If using fresh dill, scatter it throughout the jar. The flower heads are good to use as well as the frilly dill leaves. I pick a small handful of leaves and several flower heads and try to arrange the flower heads so there is at least one each in the bottom and middle and top of the jar.
- Pour lukewarm water mixture over the cucumbers and spices. Cover with lid. Let stand at room temperature. When cured to taste, store in refrigerator. Will keep 2 weeks.
NOTE: The only way to tell when they are cured to your taste is to cut off a piece from one of the cucumbers and try it. I like a stronger taste than my brother does. His pickles are done and ready to move into the fridge after one day of curing. Mine take at least three days.