canning and preserving: refrigerator pickles

I spent a good chunk of Saturday playing catch-up on chores, doing endless loads of laundry and generally getting things done. One of those things was dealing with some cucumbers that we had piling up. 

When you boiling water can pickles, you need pickling cucumbers for best results. Typically that should apply for refrigerator pickles as well, but I found last year that I could get away with regular cucumbers if I used Ball’s Pickle Crisp. So I took as many leftover cucumbers as I could deal with and sliced them up on the mandolin.

The basic part of the brine for refrigerator dills is white vinegar. I have organic vinegar for food usage (though I wouldn’t bother with organic vinegar for things like cleaning solutions or freshening a load of towels).

Some sugar and salt, plus a bunch of pickling spice get cooked down with the water and vinegar to make the brine.

While the brine cooks down, I prep the pint jars with the other ingredients. A halved garlic clove, plus a mix of spices, sit on the bottom, under the packed in cucumbers.

Once the brine is done, you add it to your large bowl of slices and let the cukes sit and soak for 30 minutes. After they’ve cooled down a bit, you pack them in the jars. (Those white granules you see are Pickle Crisp.)

Ladle brine over each jar so that the pickles are all covered and make sure there’s 1/2″ headspace on the top. Cap the jars and label them, and you’re done! (I’ve been using the Ball dissolving labels this year, though masking tape has always worked fine for us in the past.)

The pickles take two weeks to be ready, and then are good for about 3 months. After that time, they don’t necessarily “go bad” since they are basically soaking in vinegar. They just start to lose their crispness. (Because I’m giving a lot of these jars away, I mark the jars with the best by dates.)

Quick pickling is a really easy way to preserve a lot of types of vegetables, especially if you don’t have the supplies, time or inclination to do full canning. Have you done any pickling this year?