So far I've made three batches of homemade dill pickles. Every morning I go into the garden, there's a another "surprise" cucumber. This is my best cucumber crop yet. A few years back, my first pickling disaster was so salty, it nearly required eating a pound of bananas to offset the spike in my sodium levels. A detox from dill pickles then ensued. This recipe is forgiving and allows for some latitude in the amount of salt you'd like. I prefer my pickles a little more briny and less salty.
The cucumber season has been plentiful. I planted about six seeds back in April indoors. They were about two or three years old. Truth be told, cucumber seeds will produce better the older they are. (When they fall off the cliff in terms of their germination rate, I have no idea--but I had read this fact about the cuke seeds and fortunately for me, I am always saving seeds.) Thus, I am experiencing my first "old cucumber seed" bonanza this summer.
At first, I wasn't sure I'd have room for them--they spread and like tons of garden space. If you're savvy about it and have the "energy"--they will climb a trellis. I skipped the trellis. But I did give them plenty of room to grow. I have pickling cucumbers and slicers. The difference being, one is for pickling (obviously). The pickling cukes are smaller and quite prolific producers. I companion planted them with two bronze fennel/dill plants and zucchini. I love the bronze fennel against the bright green of the other foliage. Companion planting tip: always plant dill with your cucumbers!
Grab some pickling cucumbers the next time you're at the farmers' market. Then rush home and make these dill pickles. Or next year, plan ahead and plant your own cukes. They are incredibly easy to grow and will do well in containers, too. The best cucumbers are made from the most freshly picked cucumbers. Ask the grower when the pickles were picked.
Ask if Peter Piper picked them. . . just get them as fresh as you can.
Grab some pickling spices. The difference in your pickle flavor will be amazing. The McCormick's brand is the one I used.
Because you aren't using a water bath canning method to make these pickles, they are only good for about four-five days in the fridge (if they last that long). Store them in a glass container with a lid and enjoy!
Homemade Dill Pickles
*Adapted from Rachael Ray
3-4 pickling cucumbers sliced on the diagonal about 1/2" thick
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic minced
2 T. fresh dill chopped
2 tsp. pickling spice
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add vinegar, sugar and salt and bring just to a boil. In a medium bowl--one that is a bit flat (so the cucumbers can be submerged in the vinegar to soak up all the goodness) add your cucumbers, garlic, fresh dill, and pickling spices--toss together in a bowl. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over all of this. Carefully toss the pickles around a bit to make sure the pickles all have a chance to soak up this yummy mixture. Store them in the fridge. These are better after they've had a chance to cool. *Note: if you taste the mixture and feel there needs to be more salt, just sprinkle more over the pickle/vinegar mixture.