I’ve got boatloads of cucumbers growing in the garden, taking up space in the refrigerator, and even more packed into canning jars undergoing the delicious transformation into pickles. I’ve scoured dozens of recipes and methods online and finally arrived at my own adaptation. The pickling spice ingredients are simple, yet affordable because we can’t always splurge on gourmet spices (especially when you’re making enough pickles to feed an army) and the canning process is just as easy and straight forward which is great if you’re a “novice pickler” like myself.
I’ll level with you though.. I thought my simple ingredients might mean that I’d be sacrificing flavor, but I proved myself wrong there when I cracked open one of the jars a week later. They were zesty, a little spicy, but not overpowering, juicy, and perfectly crunchy. I made six jars thinking that I would keep just one and gift the rest, but I found myself devouring nearly an entire jar in one sitting and thinking I might just consume the other five that week too! I may not be sharing this batch of pickles, but I’ll at least share the recipe!
(makes 6 large jars)
4 Tbs black peppercorns
4 tablespoons mustard seeds
4 tablespoons dill seed
16-18 bay leaves, crumbled + a few extra kept whole
Simple Zesty Dill Pickles:
18-24 small dried chile peppers, cut in half
18-24 large garlic cloves, peeled
12-14 large pickling cucumbers, washed and sliced in quarters or halved
3 cups apple cider vinegar (1 1/2
3 cups white vinegar
6 cups water 3
1/4 cup + 3 Tbs pickling salt (non-iodized salt)*
*You can also use kosher salt so long as it doesn’t have any additives, but I recommend using a little more (about 1/2 cup total).
In a small bowl or zip lock bag mix together the pickling spice ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice to each large canning jar (I used 1 quart wide mouth jars). Add 3-4 garlic cloves and 3-4 chiles to each jar as well. Arrange cucumber halves or spears in the jars. Try to stagger them so they’re not too tightly packed. Leave about a 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch of space between the top of the cucumbers and top of the jar. Cut the ends of any cucumbers sticking out too far. Tuck an extra bay leaf into each jar and then set aside while you prep the brine.
In a large sauce pan combine vinegars, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer for 1-2 minutes or until salt is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and then slowly pour brine over the cucumbers until they’re completely covered. Use the end of a spoon and lightly “stir” the cucumbers. Essentially you just want to lightly move them around and release any air bubbles trapped in the jar. Add seal and screw lid on tightly.
Allow jars to cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
And don’t get impatient and crack them open early. I tried them after 5 days and while they were still pretty delicious, they were about 10X better on day 7 and even better on day 10 so it’s well worth the wait!