Last Saturday we drove the kids to the mountains. We spent the night at the grandparent's cabin and then left the dudes with Grandma and Grandpa while we came home to learn how to make beer and brew our first batch. (It's bubbling away in the closet right now!)
In preparation, we scrubbed the kitchen clean, and packed the car the night before. We had the coffee pot ready to turn on as soon as we woke up and bars were made and fruit was sliced for a portable breakfast on the road. We were ready. As soon as the boys woke up we would go.
And then I made pickles.
On Saturday before the boys woke up, and I threw them in the car in their pajamas I did not take a quick detour to the farm. While I was watering our tiny backyard, I pruned the flowers off the dill in hopes that it wouldn't totally go to seed before we got back home on Sunday. Rather than chucking them on the heap, I washed them and put them in the bottom of a clean pint jar. I smashed a couple cloves of garlic, quartered a small chile, and put them in there too.
I eyeballed and estimated and heated up some water, vinegar, and salt in the microwave for three minutes. While that came to a boil, I washed and sliced the lone cucumber in the vegetable drawer. It wasn't wilty per se, but it also wasn't fresh off the vine. I crammed the rounds into the jar, and then poured the hot vinegar over them. I covered them with the lid and left them on the counter until the boys woke up. The whole operation took approximately 5 minutes, including clean-up.
20 minutes later, with the boys balancing breakfast on their knees, a stack of books between them, I put the jar in the fridge and we left the house.
When we got back from our class the next night I cracked open the jar. They were perfect - garlicky and spicy and crisp. And the next day and the day after that they were even better. They're gone now - it was only one cucumber's worth - but they were the best summer snack possible while they lasted. I made another batch yesterday. Impatient for pickles, I've already eaten several slices. It might be time to head back to the farm, or at least the farmer's market down the street tonight. I need a lot more pickles. Oh, and incidentally, they go very, very well with beer.
Since these aren't being properly canned, they require much less vinegar than traditional pickle recipes. I've been making these once a week now with the lone cucumber that usually shows up in my weekly produce box - so easy and delicious. They are just as good layered on a burger with a fresh summer tomato as they are snacked on straight up with a beer.
makes: 1 pint jar
takes: 5 minutes (plus at least 24 hours of excruciating wait time)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 sprigs of fresh dill
- 1 small chile, quartered (optional)
- a few cranks of ground black pepper
- 1 biggish cucumber, sliced into rounds
Bring the water, vinegar, and salt to a boil. (A glass measuring cup in the microwave works fine.) Put your dill, garlic, chile, and pepper in the bottom of a clean pint jar. Layer the cucumber slices on top. Pour the hot vinegar over the whole thing. Screw on the lid and gently toss it back and forth to make double sure that everything is nicely distributed. Leave it on the counter to cool and then transfer to the fridge. After about 24 hours they'll begin to be nice and pickly, but if you can wait a few days, even better.