This was a fun recipe to do. I actually started working on it last year when I got cucumbers and dill heads in my CSA share. I started out using this recipe, then I kept on playing with variations until I had it exactly the way I wanted it. The hard part was waiting a full month before first trying any of the pickles. Meanwhile I still had more fresh cucumbers coming in, and I wasn’t sure which version was the best one to pickle them with yet. I did seven variations in all, so I’m glad to finally be able to share the winner with you!
The first change I made was to the spices. When you buy “pickling spices” they contain things like cinnamon bark and cloves. To me they give the pickles a Christmasy taste that I don’t care for. So I played around with my own combination of spices. I exchanged the cider vinegar for white vinegar. I did this mostly for aesthetic reasons. The pickles taste fine either way. I tried with and without the sugar, in case the sugar made the brine to sweet. Nope, it tastes just fine with the sugar in it.
One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s so easy, even if you’ve never done any canning before. This isn’t a true canning process, as it still requires refrigeration. The end result is a wonderfully crisp pickle, the kind I like to serve with a tuna sandwich on rye or chopped up with mustard and onions on a hot dog.
- About 1 quart pickling cucumbers, washed and blossom-end sliced off
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 large fresh dill head (see Notes)
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- Prepare number of quart jars equal to amount of pickles by running through the dishwasher or boiling for 10 minutes in a pot of water to sterilize.
- Place the garlic, dill head and red pepper flakes in the bottom of each jar. Pack with the cucumbers leaving 1/2-inch head space. You can leave the cucumbers whole, halve or quarter them, or use a combination. I do a little of everything to maximize the amount of cucumbers in the jar.
- In a large saucepan, combine water, vinegar, spices, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Ladle the brine into the jar leaving 1/4" head space. Attach lids.
- Let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.
- The pickles are ready to be eaten after about a month, and they continue to improve in flavor over the months of storage.
- They can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
If you don't have an dill heads available, just add an extra pinch of dill seed per quart.