This is the chicken’s way out. Not real cowardice about making cucumber pickles in a crock in the basement like I did with my grandmother, skimming the scum while pinching my nose at the acrid smell, only to be rewarded later with the delicious results. Hardly. I would do that again, but just not now in my way-too-warm cellar. And without confidence in my schedule. So instead, chicken about my ability to produce, I opted for the easy route, a quick pickle that cures in the refrigerator over a couple of weeks, just in time for a certain picnic in August.
I actually made these a couple of weeks ago and now they’re ready for prime time. This type of pickle may be canned using a water bath method, but I tend not to do that. While I like the water bath technique for bread and butter pickles (my “sweet-hots”), I think that dills take on an unpleasant soft texture. Better to go back to the crock method.
This “refrigerator” method couldn’t be easier. It’s what’s called raw pack, meaning that raw sliced cucumbers, flowering heads of dill, and if you can get them, a raw grape leaf per jar are covered in boiling brine (water, vinegar and salt) and stored in the refrigerator to cure. Grape leaf? There’s some chemical in grape leaves that creates crispness. I recall that, for crispness, my old-world grandmother used alum, a horrible white chemical powder that I associate with childhood torture. Prone to canker sores in the mouth whenever I ate chocolate, I was daubed with the awful substance to cauterize the wound. It’s a wonder that I ever come near chocolate. Would anybody think of that today? Back to the more pleasant thought of crispy dilled cukes within a month. By the way, you can make this with sliced Kirby cucumbers or small whole ones.
Refrigerator Dill Pickle Slices (for two quarts)
2 quarts small Kirby cucumbers, washed, dried and sliced (or left whole)
2 seed heads of dill
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
2 grape leaves, washed and dried
4 c water
1 1/3 c cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
Clean and “sterilize” two quart jars (pour boiling water in them, let cool for a few minutes and empty them). Pack them with the sliced cucumbers, sliding the grape leaf, garlic and dill head into each jar along the way. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil and pour into the jars, leaving a little headspace (not so critical since you’ll cure them in the fridge). Insert a chopstick into the jars to release any air pockets. Cap the jars and let them cool before refrigerating for about two weeks until pickled. (If you use canning lids, they will probably seal, but they should still be refrigerated.)