Urban Preserving: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

1 1/2 pounds of kirby cucumbers in a quart basket

I firmly believe in the power of pickles. A few slices of pickled beets can elevate a basic salad into something worthy of the word dinner. Lay a couple of dilly beans alongside your hot dog and and suddenly it could pass for something far more gourmet. Couple cheddar with some pickled garlic scapes (chutney is also good here) and your party guests will praise your cheeseboard abilities to the heavens.

small batch prep

Here in the US, pickles are inextricably linked to cucumbers and so that’s where I’m starting. However, there’s no rule that cucumbers are the only thing that can be pickled. This basic technique can be applied to green beans, okra, asparagus*, cauliflower, carrot*s and all manner of summer squash. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll expand your pickle horizons this summer. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

onions, garlic and dill in jar

Many of my local farmers sell their kirby cucumbers by volume and so a single quart was my starting point for this recipe (I did weight them and had almost exactly 1 1/2 pounds of perfect, pickling cukes). I started by washing the cucumbers well, cutting off both ends (the blossom end has an enzyme that can contribute to limp pickles) and slicing them into wedges.

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Once my cucumbers were sliced, I combined 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 3/4 filtered water and a two teaspoons sea salt. While that came to a boil, I prepped two clean pint jars. Each jar received one teaspoon dill seed, two peeled garlic cloves and one tablespoon chopped spring onion. Finally, I packed the cucumber spears into the jars. The quart of cucumbers fit perfectly into the two jars (makes sense since two pint jars equals a quart).

packed jars

When the brine reached a boil, I slowly poured it into the jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Because these are refrigerator pickles (this means that they aren’t shelf stable and must be kept in the fridge) this is the point where the work is done. Once the brine is in the jars, you pop the lids on and tuck them into the fridge. Give them at least a day or two to cure and then nosh away.

finished pickles

*These vegetables need a quick bath in some boiling water before they’re able to be pickled. Spend the time and dirty the pot in order to blanch them for 30-60 seconds. The extra step will pay off in flavor.

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

Yield: 2 Pints

Ingredients

  • 1 quart kirby cucumbers (approximately 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 spring onions (whites only), chopped

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry kirby cucumbers. Chop ends off and slice into spears. Set aside.
  2. Combine vinegar, water and salt in sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Equally divide the dill seed, garlic cloves and chopped onion between the two jars. Pack the cucumber spears into the jars as tightly as you can without crushing them.
  4. Pour the brine into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put lids on the jars and let them cool on the counter top. Once they’re cool, put them in the refrigerator. Let cure for at least a day before eating. Pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

Notes

*Your jars may seal during the cooling process. The USDA will tell you that this doesn’t mean that your pickles are then shelf stable. However, there are people who flout those rules. Use your best judgment.

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115 Responses to Urban Preserving: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

  1. 51

    [...] Urban Preserving: Refrigerator Dill Pickles | Food in JarsJun 13, 2011 … Because these are refrigerator pickles (this means that they aren’t shelf stable and must be kept in the fridge) this is the point where the work is … [...]

  2. 52
    Renita Reavis says:

    My 13 year-old daughter just made these these with the cucumbers and onions she grew. She is planning to give jars to her teachers this last week of school since we have so many! I can’t wait to try them. This is the first recipe of yours I have been brave enough to try even though I have followed your blog for awhile. One day we will be brave enough to actually can something or make some yummy preserves on our own!

  3. 53
    Renita Reavis says:

    I made these for the first time – my first experience with making pickles – an my garlic has blue on it? What should I do? Are they still safe to eat?

  4. 54
    Suzan Wilson says:

    Hi…I’m planning on trying my hand at these this week. Question though…does sugar go into these at all? Or does that make a different type of pickle? Can you do Bread and Butter pickles this way too? Can’t wait!

  5. 55

    [...] and that’s the only way of preserving food that I’d ever witnessed.  Then I found this wonderful recipe for refrigerator pickles, and my day suddenly seemed [...]

  6. 56
    Melissa says:

    My daughter and I made these pickles today. Cant wait to see how they turn out!

  7. 57

    [...]  Adapted from Food in Jars [...]

  8. 58

    [...] Sour Quick Pickles (adapted from foodinjars.com) [...]

  9. 59

    [...] started my foray into preserving with the simplest of recipes – fridge pickles. Largely following Marisa’s instructions (I improvised just a little), I turned a 5-liter jar [...]

  10. 60

    [...] Refrigerator Dill Pickles from Food in Jars. [...]

  11. 61

    [...] pickles! My good friends Matt and Erica recommended checking out  Food in Jars. I ended up using this recipe. This is my first try at homemade [...]

  12. 62
    Sandy Warner says:

    My questions is.. You said, They do need a quick bath in boiling water for 30-60 sec. Can you explain that better to me? After adding onions, garlic, cukes etc. to jar & putting lid on. Then put them in water & bring the water to a boil for 30-60 sec ? Or the liquid in jars have to boil 30-60 sec ?

    • 62.1
      Marisa says:

      Sandy, only the vegetables marked with an asterisk need a quick bath in boiling water to soften them before pickling. It is not part of the recipe instructions, it is simply a note. So if you follow the recipe as written, nothing needs a “quick bath in boiling water.” You only do that if you swap in carrots or asparagus for the cucumbers.

  13. 63
    Sarah Mider says:

    I did not have apple cider vinegar and substituted white vinegar. I also added 2 teaspoons of sugar. Doubled the amount of garlic. I will never buy another jar of pickles again!! Thank you!

  14. 64

    [...] tab, you’ll find basically any recipe you’ll ever need as far as canning, such as Refrigerator Dill Pickles, Garlic Dill Pickles, and a homemade Pickling Spice recipe. I’ll be spending a lot of time on [...]

  15. 65
    Karen says:

    Have you ever pickled jalapeno’s? I’d love to know how! Thanks! Love your site!

  16. 66

    [...] adapted from Food in Jars (definitely check out her post because she includes pics of the process; plus, her site is awesome [...]

  17. 67
    teenage gastronome says:

    I made this brine about a week ago, changing the solid ingredients to preference or availability (including grape leaves for crunchiness), and just tasted them. They were my first ever foray into pickling, and I was very excited! I also put them all into one quart jar for ease. They were fine in all aspects except for the vinegar, which was so overpowering that they were barley edible! What did I do wrong?
    I completely understand if you don’t respond, this is, after all, a very old post, but I thought I’d try anyways. :)

    • 67.1
      nurah says:

      mine were overpowered with vinegar taste, so no one ate them. they’ve been in the fridge several months, so today i was thinking of tossing them. i decided to taste one before i tossed, and was surprised that they are now very good! maybe age helps the flavors mingle and mellow.???

  18. 68
    Maureen says:

    I have a couple of questions – on the refrigerator pickles, how long do they keep in the fridge? Also, my liquid is a little cloudy, is this normal? Can I use plastic screw type lids instead of the metal lids & rings? Brine jar in the fridge – how does that work?
    Thank-you,
    Maureen

    • 68.1
      nurah says:

      i wondered the same thing about how long refrigerator pickles will keep. i know the liquid can turn cloudy and the garlic discolor, but they are still safe to eat. I just tasted some left in the fridge from the summer, and they seemed OK to me. let me know if you found out anything. i believe screw on lids are fine.

      • Marisa says:

        I find that as long as the vegetables are submerged and the liquid doesn’t appear to be developing a funky smell or any yeasty tendrils, they’re still good.

  19. 69

    [...] Pickle them, of course. I’ve never pickled before in my life, but what the hell. I found a recipe for refrigerator dill pickles and dove right in. It was so damn easy. But I have to wait 24 hours [...]

  20. 70
    Bobbie says:

    Hi, Ive just stumbled upon your blog via you guessed it Pinterest! (Lame I know, not everyone can be original and stumble upon your cookbook in a library) I am definitely getting your book.
    I just did this small batch of refrigerator dills, with cucs from my garden. I had a small yield so this was bang on :)
    Thank-you so much
    Ive bookmarked your blog LOVE IT!
    Bobbie P
    From Red Deer AB

  21. 71

    [...] Pickling! Getting those last cukes, zucchini and other pickle-worthy produce items in the back of the fridge or preserved on the shelf is a great way to enjoy the bounty year-round. We love this recipe from Food in Jars. [...]

  22. 72

    [...] Food in Jars: Refrigerator Dill Pickles [...]

  23. 73

    [...] Dill Pickles from Spicie Foodie and Refrigerator Dill Pickles from Food in [...]

  24. 74

    [...] If they aren’t as delicious as they look, it’ll be okay because I recently made my own refrigerator pickles that are juuust right. Now I just need to make myself a pickle jar [...]

  25. 75

    [...] one multiple times. It’s quite good, but not insane. But to try something new, last week I made this one from Food in Jars. I altered the recipe a bit because I don’t have spring onions or dill seeds.  [...]

  26. 76
    Chris says:

    I have made refrigerator pickles for years and have kept them in the fridge for 6-8 months. Is this safe? My ingredients are similar to yours, although sometimes instead of onions, I put in spicy peppers. I’ve never had a problem eating or serving pickles after that long Generally once a jar is open, the pickles are gone in about a week. But the unopened ones have been in my fridge for up to 8 months. Just wondering if anyone else has experience with this?

    • 76.1
      Marisa says:

      Chris, that’s totally fine. As long as you’re starting with really clean jars and lids, and the brine goes in hot, those unopened jars of pickles can last up to a year in your fridge.

      • Chris says:

        Thanks Marisa! I’m glad to hear it!
        one thing I noticed with these measurements is that when I use a quart jar filled with pickle slices, I only get half a jar of brine. i have to double your recipe (1.5 cups of vinegar / 1.5 cups water) to fill one quart since 2 pints is a quart, I would think your recipe would fill a quart?
        Does that mean I am overfilling with pickles?
        Or am I fine as long as the vinegar to water ratio is 1:1?
        Thanks Again!

        • Marisa says:

          I’m not sure why you’re experiencing that, but as long as you keep the water and vinegar in the 1:1 relationship, you can scale the quantities up or down without issue.

  27. 77

    […] Refrigerator pickles Adapted from Food in Jars […]

  28. 78
    Jessa says:

    Hi Marisa,

    What about the fear of listeria with the recipe? USDA remove fridge pickles from their website due to this – http://nchfp.uga.edu/papers/2004/04ift-picklesabstract.pdf

    • 78.1
      Marisa says:

      Jessa, that paper refers to lacto-fermented pickles, not quick vinegar pickles like the ones made in this post. As far as I know, there’s no danger to making pickles like these.

  29. 79
    QT says:

    Can someone explain the difference between a slicing cucumber and pickling cucumber? I get that the seeds are smaller and fewer, but what’s the deal with the skin?

  30. 80
    Amanda says:

    I LOvE your cookbook and have been using it all weekend to can! Do you have any recipes or ideas for lemon cucumbers? My garden is bursting with them and I can’t keep up. Thanks for sharing!

  31. 81

    […] took them home and made them into refrigerator pickles. I used fresh dill because I didn’t have any dill seed and because fresh dill is one of the […]

  32. 82

    […] salad fixings you want – I used baby kale, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage mix, homemade pickles, and homemade balsamic vinegar/macadamia nut […]

  33. 83
    Connie says:

    Just made these last night. It was super quick and easy! Can’t wait to try them!

  34. 84

    […] climbers and trellising prevents the fruit from rotting on the ground. I used Food in Jar’s Refrigerator Dill Pickles but added and subtracted to fit my tastes. I wanted to make a small batch and I didn’t feel […]

  35. 85
  36. 86
    Stephanie says:

    I made these two days ago for my first attempt at canning. They’re fabulous! Thanks for the recipe!

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