The only reason I grow cucumbers is to make garlic dill pickles. Oh, sure, we eat cucumbers in tossed salads, and I make a German-style cucumber salad that my husband adored. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like a good garlic dill pickle.
Pickles Have Health Benefits
Pickles are naturally low in calories, making them an excellent way to satisfy crunchy and salty cravings when you’re trying to lose weight. Their health benefits don’t end there, either. Pickles contain antioxidants which fight free radicals throughout the body. Vinegar-based pickles have also been shown to improve hemoglobin levels in diabetics. Plus, like all fruits and vegetables, they’re full of vitamins and minerals!
That doesn’t mean you should go crazy eating them. Pickles are rather high in sodium, so if that’s something you’re watching you’ll want to limit yourself to one spear a day.
Don’t toss the juice!
Pickle juice is almost as good for you as the pickles themselves. Due to the high sodium and potassium content, pickle juice is a favorite drink of athletes who need to replenish those nutrients rapidly after working out. Those nutrients also make it a favorite remedy for sore muscles, hangovers, and even PMS. The vinegar in the brine also aids digestion, so consider keeping a jar of pickle juice in your refrigerator to treat upset tummies.
To Can or Not To Can
If you’re new to canning, pickles are an excellent way to start. Or skip the canning process altogether, and use the refrigerator pickle method I’ve provided.
You don’t need to limit yourself to cucumbers, either. Baby carrots, whole green beans, radishes and quartered turnips are all good this way. In fact, my cucumber-hating son isn’t a fan of my garlic dill pickles, but he loves just about any other kind of vegetable pickled in this brine!
Garlic Dill Pickles: Canning or Quick
Crunchy pickles with just the right amount of garlic zing. Check out the directions for canning or make quick pickles in your refrigerator.
- 3 lbs pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. pickling or Kosher salt
- 8-12 cloves garlic (How garlicky do you want them?)
- 4 tsp. dill seeds
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns whole
- 4 grape leaves optional (for crunch)
Wash jars in warm, soapy water and rinse in hot, or run them through the dishwasher.
If you will be canning these, get your water bath canner boiling now. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring a few inches of water to a low simmer and add the canning jar lids.
Wash and dry the cucumbers. Slice a sliver off from each end, and cut into chunks or spears.
In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a rolling boil.
Divide the garlic cloves, dill seeds, and peppercorns equally between the hot jars. Pack the cucumbers in as tightly as you can manage.
Pour the hot vinegar brine into the hot jars, allowing ¼ inch headspace. Place one grape leaf on top of the cucumbers in each jar to cover them. This will keep your pickles crispy.
NOTE: If making quick pickles just put the lids on and transfer them to the refrigerator. Wait 48 hours before eating them.
Run a chopstick or small plastic spatula around the interior of the jar, between the cucumbers and the glass, to remove any air bubbles.
Process jars by carefully lowering them into the boiling water bath canner. The water will stop boiling at this point; when it returns to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes.
After the jars have processed at a full boil for 10 minutes, remove them carefully to a folded towel on the counter. Allow them to cool for 24 hours. Do not move them! It is normal for the jars to make popping sounds as they cool.
The next day, check the seal by pressing down on the lid. If it does not move, the jar has been properly sealed. Any lids that wobble are not shelf-stable and will need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Note: This recipe first appeared June 27, 2012. It has been revised and updated to include more concise refrigerator pickle instructions.