Homemade refrigerator pickles are one of the easiest and fastest homemade food recipes you can make. Did you know that most of the store-bought pickles on your local grocery store shelf have polysorbate 80, yellow #5 and/or guar gum in the vinegar brine solution?
Sure there are a few pickle brands that are all-natural, but they are typically very expensive. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that a jar of natural pickles at Whole Foods was $8! Really?! So we now make our own because like making your own mayonnaise, it’s simple, fast, no weird ingredients and costs less.
Refrigerator Dill Pickles Recipe
I’ve tried many refrigerator dill pickle recipes and found the simple one below to be my favorite. My favorite kind of pickle are half-sours, like the kind you can find in a New York Deli. Half-sour pickles spend less time in the brine solution, have a more fresh cucumber taste and are very crisp and bright green in color. This recipe comes close to that of pickle taste and texture.
- Fresh Cucumbers – Ideally, use pickling cucumbers (also called Kirby cucumbers) that have smaller seeds and thinner skins. We use cucumbers we grow from our garden during the summer, but in the winter we will buy English cucumbers – they are the long narrow cucumbers usually wrapped in cellophane next to the salad cucumbers in the vegetable aisle. If you are just making a quart, one English cucumber will usually do or 2-3 smaller pickling cucumbers.
- Dill – 1 tsp dried or 5 fresh sprigs
- Minced garlic – We like our pickles “Kosher” style with lots of garlic, so we use about 4 teaspoons. At minimum use 2.
- 3 Tablespoons White Vinegar – We also have used apple-cider vinegar.
- 1 Tablespoon of Kosher Salt – You can use less or more depending on your preference, but use at least 1/2 Tbsp.
- Water – we use our filtered water from the refrigerator, but use what you like – filtered, distilled or even tap – but it may affect the flavor if you have very hard water.
- Optional Pickling Spice Additions – Peppercorns, red pepper flakes, turmeric, curry powder, bay leaves, cloves, ginger, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, cinnamon stick, mace. Because I like the fresh cucumber taste, I tend to go very basic on the spices, but experiment with different batches to see what you like. I would recommend adding your own spices individually rather than getting a pre-made “pickling spice”. This way you can adjust the proportions of each to your taste.
- Add the dill, garlic, vinegar, salt and any other spices to a quart jar and swirl it around a bit.
- Now add your washed cucumbers. Add them whole or sliced. however you like. Pack them all down in there.
- Now fill the jar with water to the top, leave about 1/4″ space and securely tighten the lid.
- Shake the jar to mix and dissolve the salt.
- Now place them on your counter at room temperature for 12 hours, then flip them over and let them sit for another 12 hours. This is why you want to make sure your lid is on tight. Just as a safety precaution, I always leave the jar in a bowl when I flip them upside down in case of unexpected leaks.
- Now put them in the refrigerator, chill and enjoy!
Note: These are not “canned” pickles that require sterilizing of jars and lids. These pickles are to be refrigerated and will last several months – but they never do in our refrigerator, because we eat them too fast! They’re just so easy to make, so we only make a jar or two at a time. You can also reuse the vinegar brine solution for your next batch. Just add a little more vinegar and water to make up any solution loss. Note: The bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, can survive and grow in refrigerator pickles. Take these precautions detailed at the FDA, especially if you are included in one of the at-risk groups listed.
Sweet Bread and Butter Refrigerator Pickles
If you like sweet pickles, then here is a video that shows you how to make refrigerator bread and butter pickles with no heating involved. I once made a similar batch of such pickles (I think it was an Alton Brown recipe) and they were good, but I still like my dill, half-sour pickles best.
Pickling Other Vegetables
Of course you can use this vinegar brine solution to pickle other vegetables besides cucumbers like carrots, peppers, beets, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, okra, pearl onions, green tomatoes and more.
What do you like to pickle? Any special spices or additions you like to add to your brine? Tell us in the comments!