There’s something about the hint of regular intense sunshine and the onset of summer that makes me want to make pickles. They’re a great picnic food, a perfect little snack, and a lovely thing to put out on the table for people to munch on before a meal. There’s something so very satisfying about their briny goodness, and something about the salty intensity to keep a person from over-indulging.
In the past, I’ve posted several pickle recipes. This one has a little less sugar, a little more vinegar, different spices, and I didn’t heat the brine. So, overall, of the very easy pickle recipes on this site, this one is the easiest.
Dill Pickle Spears (makes 16 spears)
1 quart canning jar
4 large pickling cucumbers, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise
1 thumb-size piece of fresh horseradish root*
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. (7.5ml) salt
1/2 Tbsp. (7.5ml) sugar
Several sprigs of fresh dill (fronds or flowers, stems and all)
Optional and alterable:
Garlic, peeled, quartered… I used 4 cloves
Whole black peppercorns… about 10
Allspice berries… 5
Red pepper flakes or whole dried chilies… 1/2 (2.5ml) teaspoon
Yellow mustard seed… 1/2 (2.5ml) teaspoon
*Horseradish keeps the pickles crunchy as well as adding a peppery punch. You can find it in most groceries these days in the root vegetable section.
I always, always, always sterilize my jars before making preserves and pickles. It doesn’t matter if they’re going straight in the fridge, there’s bacteria everywhere, and boiling the jar for ten minutes means I never see a speck of mold.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and any dried spices. Add a couple of pieces of garlic, the horseradish and half the dill. Stuff the cucumber spears into the jar. They should just fit.Top with the remaining garlic and dill. Pour the vinegar solution over the top. Add enough water to completely cover everything. Cap the jar and rotate a few times to distribute everything.
Put the pickles in the fridge and rotate the jar once or twice a day. Taste the pickles on the second day. I like them best at about day four. They don’t really go bad, but they will get softer and taste less fresh over time.