I’ve been oddly addicted to dill pickles lately – as in, I’ve been eating my way through jars and jars of them, ice cold, straight from the fridge. Recycling last week was scary.
And so I did not procrastinate this time when I came across bags of knobbly thumb-sized pickling cukes at the market – I bought the biggest bag I could ($22 worth-I may have overdid it) and W and I turned them into pickles the other night, after coming home from his cousin’s birthday dinner, before going to bed. Even when you have that much to work with, making pickles isn’t an all-day endeavor – it really isn’t as big a deal as it sounds.
Start with the snappiest cukes possible – a bendy cucumber means a bendy pickle. Tuck a couple peeled garlic cloves and a big sprig of fresh dill into each clean jar (I like to run them through the dishwasher first), then pack in as many cucumbers as you can wedge – considering that they will shrink as they pickle. Kids love this – it’s like a culinary version of Tetris. While you do this, heat some vinegar, water and coarse salt on the stove to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot brine over the pickles and pop on the lids. The processing part is what tends to freak people out – it only requires lowering the jars into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, then taking them back out. (Don’t go over 10, or they’ll start to cook and won’t be as crunchy.) Many dill pickles skip this step, so if you want to just keep them in the fridge, they’ll be fine – especially if you start with warm jars and hot brine.
(Amy has more detailed instructions on her site.)