Pickling Cucumbers (small, firm, unwaxed cucumbers) are in season mid-Summer (July+August). They can be found at Farmer’s Markets, by growing your own, or at a grocery store (such as Aldi or Walmart) sold as ‘mini-cucumbers’ in a bag or package.
These little crunchy veggies are fun to eat plain or with a dip of hummus. They are extremely low in calories and help with hydration and mineral balance during hot weather. For more info on the different types of cucumbers and additional recipes ideas, see here.
We tried pickling and canning our own, and are very happy with the results! They’re crisp, garlicky and deliciously spiced. The cost came to less than $1.00 per pint (not including the jars, which would add an additional $.75 if purchased new). That’s about 1/4 – 1/2 of the cost of grocery store garlic-dill pickles. Some of the ingredients may seem a bit hard to find, but ask a farmer that sells pickling cucumbers and they may just have some of these too. Otherwise- see substitutions listed in the recipe that follows. See here for notes on canning safely.
RECIPE: Garlic-Dill Cucumber Pickles
- About 5#/1 half-peck pickling cucumbers
- 20-24 cloves of garlic (peeled)
- A few fresh bay leaves (we found a pkg. of fresh bay leaves at Walmart for $.98) (or use dried)
- a few sprigs of fresh dill that has gone to seed/flowering, from a garden or Farmer (or substitute fresh dill from the grocery store/dried dill seeds)
- 2 tsp. whole peppercorns*
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds*
- 2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds*
- 2 tsp. hot pepper flakes*
- Optional-‘Pickle Crisp’ (purchased where canning ingredients are sold) or Fresh Grape Leaves from a garden or Farmer (half of a washed grape leaf per jar, placed in the bottom of the jar)
- 3/4 c. Pickling Salt (purchased where canning ingredients are sold, Walmart/Rural King, etc.)
- 1-32 oz. jar white vinegar
- 8 cups water
*Or use a store bought spice blend, Pickling Spice. ‘Pickle Crisp’ or Grape Leaves are used to help the pickles stay crunchy. This is not necessary if you’re making Refrigerator Pickles, and not canning the jars.
Wash the cucumbers thoroughly. Using a paring knife, trim the ends off the cucumbers. It is said that very fresh, very cold cucumbers make the crunchiest texture. Traditionally the prepared cucumbers would be held in an ice bath for a few hours before canning or placed in water and kept in the refrigerator overnight. We soaked ours in cold water, in the refrigerator, overnight.
Meanwhile, clean and sterilize the pint jars and lids either in a dishwasher or by pouring boiling water into them.
When cool enough to handle, empty the jars of water and place about 1/8 tsp. of each spice into each jar (peppercorns-coriander seeds-mustard seeds-red pepper flakes) or about 1/2 tsp. total if you’re using a pickling spice blend. Put in each: a small pinch or about 1/8 tsp. of the Pickle Crisp (if you’re using it for canning; not needed for refrigerator pickles). Cut the bay leaves in half, and place a half bay leaf in each jar. Place a 1″ sprig of fresh dill or a few pieces from the flower head of dill plant that has gone to seed. If not using fresh dill but instead using dried dill seed, just use about 1/8 tsp. per jar.
Now your jars are ready for the cucumbers. You may put them in whole, sliced into spears or coins. Pack the jars tight, to fit in as many ‘pickles’ as you can- leaving about 1/4 inch of space between the cucumber and the lid/top of the jar.
Bring the water, fresh garlic and pickling salt to a rapid boil. Stir to dissolve the salt. Remove the garlic pieces and divide between the prepped pickle jars. Add the vinegar to the salt-water and return to a boil.
Ladle the very hot pickling liquid over the cucumbers and fill the jar to within 1/4 inch of the top. (It will take almost 1 c. of liquid per jar.) Place sterilized lids on top and screw on until just tight. When cool, thoroughly tighten the jars. See instructions about for properly canning.
Canned pickles may be kept in the pantry for 1 year; refrigerator pickles keep 3-4 months in the refrigerator.
The Big 8 Food Allergen Info: Does Not Contain Any