Pickling cucumbers are always a staple in the summer garden. And on the southern table, dill pickles, sweet pickles, or pickle plates are the perfect complement to any meal. Sandwiches for lunch? Pickles on the side! Chicken and dumplings? Pickles on the side! I can’t think of an occasion where a pickle or some kind of pickled vegetable couldn’t work. And did I mention we live about 20 minutes away from a little town called Mount Olive? As in, Mt. Olive pickles? True story.
Sweet versus Dill Pickles
When I ask about their favorite type of pickle, my kids undoubtedly choose sweet pickles. What’s not to love about crisp cucumbers floating in a vinegar-sugar mix? My mom and grandmother set about to make jars upon jars of sweet pickles each summer. It takes three days to complete their recipe, while my husband’s aunt makes her legendary seven day sweet pickles. With three kids, homeschooling, and everything else life throws at us, I don’t have days to make pickles. And to be honest, I’ve always preferred dill pickles.
The tart taste and mouth pucker that comes from eating dill pickles brings me great joy. Even before I became more conscious of the amount of sugar I was taking in, I still preferred dill over sweet pickles. And thanks to my granny’s church cookbook, I had a fantastic and quick guide for creating my own dill pickles.
Pickling cucumbers, or other vegetables and fruits, helps to preserve them. The art of pickling has been around for centuries and each country or culture has their own preferred pickled item. You may have eaten some of them and not considered that they were pickled. For example, kimchi (pickled cabbage and radishes), sauerkraut (pickled shredded cabbage), and giardiniera (pickled cauliflower, onion, carrots, and celery) are all pickled vegetables that are commonly found today in restaurants and grocery stores.
For my quick dill pickles, there are several essential ingredients. These include white vinegar, salt, and fresh dill. These dill pickles are an excellent way to use up any fresh dill that may be growing in your garden. (This fresh dill dip is also fantastic!) You can also add other “flavors” to your dill pickles as well, such as whole garlic cloves, peppercorns, or jalapeños or crushed red pepper to spice things up. There are tons of possibilities. This recipe makes just 2-3 pint jars of pickles, so you don’t have to worry about canning and sealing. If you do want to seal these jars up to store in the pantry, simply double or triple the recipe so you have plenty on hand for the months ahead.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
2-3 pint mason jars (sterilized)
2 cups white vinegar
6-8 pickling cucumbers
2 cups water
2 Tbsp pickling salt or kosher salt
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
2-3 fresh garlic cloves (optional)
2 tsp black peppercorns (optional) or pickling spice
crushed red pepper (optional for “hot” pickles)
Quick Dill Pickles
- Begin by sterilizing your glass jars. To do this, I simply boil water in my electric kettle and pour the hot water in and around the jars. Pour the water out and set jars on the counter, ready to fill.
- In the bottom of the jars, place fresh dill, garlic, and peppercorns (if using). Then slice cucumbers to desired thickness.
- Pack sliced cucumbers into the Mason jars. Really pack them in, because once the brine is added, any large gaps in the cucumber slices will be obvious, and you want to use up as much cucumber as you can.
- On the stovetop, combine vinegar, water, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the salt dissolves. Take pot off of heat and slowly pour the brine over your packed jars of cucumbers. Fill until the cucumbers are just covered, but don’t fill to the very top of the jar. Leave a little head room.
- Wipe any bring away from the top of the jar and place lids on jars. For the no-sealing method, simply place jars of pickles in the refrigerator after they’ve cooled and store there for several days until the pickles are ready. Eat your pickles within a week or two. In our house this isn’t a problem. If you’d like to seal them for longer storage, process the jars in a bath of boiling water for 10 minutes (jars should be covered by the boiling water). Remove from the water and let them sit on the counter until you hear a “pop” from the jars indicating they are sealed. For sealed jars, give them a few weeks in the pantry to develop their pickle flavor and enjoy!
And that’s it! No need to buy pickles from the store, and these taste so much better! And honestly, many store bought pickles contain all kinds of additives and food coloring, and I try to avoid those things if at all possible. These quick dill pickles can be made faster than you can drive to the store and buy a jar of pre-made pickles. So give them a try with this summer’s garden fresh pickles. If you haven’t grown pickling cucumbers, feel free to use long English cucumbers instead, no one will know but you.
Have a great week and happy gardening!