With such a large family, I got used to cooking everything in army-sized batches. Now, with only one child still at home, I don’t need to do that anymore. But getting used to smaller batch cooking has been a challenge for me. This morning I got out all the equipment to make dill pickles when it occurred to me that I wasn’t likely to need three gallons this week. One will be plenty, and will probably leave enough left over to bring to my neighbor.
I will can larger batches for our pantry later but this early in the season I tend to make refrigerator dills a lot. They are crispy, tart, make use of the garlic that is just ready to harvest, and the dill which is producing large, fragrant heads. My own garden up here in the hills is not giving us any cukes yet, but the valley cukes are very good. They are all but giving them away down at the farmer’s market. I bought a pound yesterday and the pickles I made are chilling now. Here is the refrigerator dill pickle recipe I used.
Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Makes 4 pints
You will need:
- 1 pound small cucumbers
- Several heads fresh dill
- Several cloves garlic
- 1/2 gallon Mason jar or other glass jar with tight-fitting lid (or can use 4 pint jars)
Dill Pickle Brine
I make the brine the night before as you want it cool before pouring over the cucumber spears, and I’m not a patient person. The recipe is simple:
- ¾ cups of water
- 1 ¼ cups white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- Bring this to a boil and then let it cool.
- Slice cucumbers into spears. If they’re small you can leave them whole.
- Pack a ½ gallon Mason jar with the spears and add 2 heads dill weed and 2 cloves of garlic in between the layers.
- Keep in the refrigerator for three days, then enjoy.
This is such a simple recipe that I often have my daughter make a jar before bed each night during the height of cucumber season. We can easily eat a jar every day as they make a great, cold snack after hot jobs like haying and weeding. This snack is perfect after a sweaty day like that because the salt replaces the nutrients you lose. They dress up simple salad and sandwich meals when it’s too hot to cook. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: This recipe was first published in July 2015.