‘Tis the season…
…to pickle just about anything you can fit in a mason jar!
Got a peck of peppers? A pint of beans? A couple of cukes? Pickle ’em up!
The beautiful thing about pickles is that they give you a lot of flexibility. You can utilize a huge variety of produce and seasonings, work in batches of any size, and choose to refrigerate, can, or ferment. Pickling is pretty much a gardener’s best friend when it comes to creatively utilizing and preserving the harvest.
Now, I will be the the first person to go and on about the wonders of pickled rhubarb or pickled radishes, but deep down, my heart really belongs to the classic dill cucumber pickle. You really can’t beat those perfect little garlicky bites–they’re packed with incredible homegrown and homemade flavor–so when the cucumbers started to come in last week, there was little doubt that a good pickle or two was in the works.
This quick dill pickle recipe is perfect for when the cucumbers are just getting started and you only have enough to fill a pint jar or two, but it could easily be adapted for larger quantities as well.
The flavor profile is pretty straight-up classic, but a little bit of heat from the red pepper flakes and the extra depth of flavor from using apple cider vinegar instead of plain white vinegar kicks it up a bit (a few years ago my mom wisely told me that distilled white vinegar is for cleaning and apple cider vinegar is for cooking; I’ve stayed pretty true to that advice ever since and have yet to be disappointed by the results). As it is written, this recipe is mildly spicy, but you certainly could take it further in that direction with more red pepper flakes or even adding fresh serrano or jalapeno pepper if that’s what you have on hand.
Obviously quick pickles are not shelf stable for long-term storage, but when they taste this good, they won’t be around for longer than a week anyway!
Quick Dill Pickles
3-4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh dill
2-3 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon mustard seed
Thinly slice cumbers and pack them into a clean pint jar. Add fresh dill and red pepper flakes and set aside while you prepare the brine.
Add the remaining ingredients to a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and pour brine into the jar until the cucumbers are covered (if it appears that you will have a little extra liquid, be sure to spoon in as much of the garlic and mustard seed as you can to maximize the flavor).
Cover the jar and set it aside to cool to room temperature, then transfer the jar into the refrigerator. Pickles are ready and tasty in as little as 1 hour, but if you wait closer to 12-24 hours, they will be even better!