I don’t know about you, but I LOVE pickles! Not only that, but my wife and kids all love pickles! We can go through a jar of pickles in no time. By that, I mean if a new jar of pickles lasts more than an evening in our house, that jar of pickles should consider itself lucky 🙂
The trouble is, the really good pickles tend to cost anywhere between $3.99 and $5.49 per 24 oz jar. So, if you love to eat good pickles, it can be an expensive habit. You can get into canning pickles of course, but it can be a tedious process, expensive if you don’t have canning supplies, and not worth it just to make small batches.
Enter… THE REFRIGERATOR PICKLE!
We have been making these for years and have tweaked our recipe to find the easiest and cheapest way to make super-tasty pickles quickly in small batches at home.
What I am giving you here is my recipe for basic, but very tasty dill pickles. I will tell you some easy variations along the way. Also, I have tailored this recipe for a single batch of pickles made in a common 24 oz pickle, sauerkraut, or similar glass jar that you can reuse from another purchase. That way, you don’t have to spend extra money on a Mason jar.
You will need:
1. White Vinegar
2. Apple Cider Vinegar (this is optional, but I like the subtle flavor it adds)
3. Tap or bottled water
4. Kosher salt (regular table salt will work too if that is all you have)
5. Fresh garlic bulb
6. White sugar
7. Black pepper or pepper corns
8. A small white or yellow onion
9. One large cucumber (3/4 lb-1 lb) or two smaller
10. Fresh dill or dried dill seed
* You will also need a 24 oz glass jar/lid, a sharp knife, small pan, cutting board, one cup measure, and measuring spoons
Mix together 6 oz of white vinegar, 6 oz of water, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 1/2 tbsp salt, and 2 1/2 tbsp sugar in a small pan. Heat the solution on medium and stir frequently to avoid scorching the sugar. (If you desire more sweet or salty, adjust the mix according to your tastes. Also, you can use all or part brown sugar instead of white)
While the solution is heating up, cut up all fresh ingredients, pack them tightly into the jar, and add the pepper/dill. I like to cut 1/3 of the cucumber into 1/8″ slices and 2/3 of the pickle into spears so I’ll have a mix of finger pickles and pickles for sandwiches. You can cut them any way you like.
Thinly slice about 1/2 of a small onion and chop about 3-4 cloves of garlic. After packing all the ingredients into the jar, sprinkle in 1/2 tsp of ground pepper or pepper corns, then add a few sprigs of fresh dill or 1 tsp of dill seeds.
You can also add a pinch of ground mustard, celery seed, sliced scallions, and/or thyme for complexity.
For “spicy pickles,” all you need to do is thinly slice one jalapeno and put in the jar. You’ll have TASTY spicy pickles that are of a medium heat.
Your pickling solution should be done about the time you are finished putting the ingredients in the jar. Carefully, pour the hot solution into the jar. Make sure the ingredients are all covered with liquid, but leave about 1/4″ of space at the top of the jar. Let the jar cool to room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator overnight or until it is cold. Then, enjoy the best fridge pickles you ever had! Make sure to keep them refrigerated since they are not canned/sealed and not intended for room temperature storage.
If you are making pickles in a different sized jar, here is the easy way to judge how much water/vinegar you need to start with. If your jar is tightly packed with cucumbers, you will need about 1/2 the volume of the jar in vinegar/water. So if you were using a 1 qt. jar, you’d need 16 oz of solution total- 8 oz of water and 8 oz of white vinegar. Adjust all other ingredients accordingly.
Another thing you can do when you have eaten all the pickles is just add some more cucumbers to the solution. Since it isn’t hot when the cucumbers are added, you may want to let them sit for a couple days before eating for the solution to work into the cucumbers. The onions that are pickled also end up being very good on hamburgers or plain.
Happy pickle making! -Luke