Anyone who cans knows that smaller cucumbers make better pickles. It doesn’t matter if you’re making dills, bread and butters or chunky sweet ones. Large cucumbers often tend to be seedy, which makes them unsuitable for every kind of pickle.
Sometimes, just a day or two can make the difference between perfect pickling cucumbers and those that are better off being de-seeded and used in salads or sliced and soaked in a bowl of vinegar.
Usually, I’m right on top of my cucumber crop. However this past week, I was out of town for a few days. Before leaving, only a few cucumbers were big enough to be eaten. But when I returned, things had changed.
Instead of just a few slicers, I had a huge bowl of cucumbers, too many to eat but not enough to make dills. Plus, about half of them were bigger than I like for dills, although they weren’t seedy.
There was only one thing to do with the cucumbers: Make refrigerator pickles.
I used the following recipe, from Kerr’s Home Canning and Freezing Guide. I’ve never used the recipe before, but it looked a little different than others we’ve tried in the past.
I’m hoping — and expecting — they’ll be just fine. After all, the recipe is from some of the people we’ve trusted for canning tips and needs for many years.
And with no trips planned in the next few weeks, my next batch will be dills because you can be sure I’ll be religiously checking the cucumbers every day to ensure we have the perfect pickles to nibble on over our long Northland winter.
Refrigerator Cucumber Slices
6 cups sliced cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled
1 cup sliced onions
2 cups white vinegar (5 percent acidity)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, place one clove garlic in each hot, sterilized quart jar. Pack cucumbers and onions into jars, leaving 3/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place lids and screw bands on jars firmly. Cool completely before refrigerating. Refrigerate at least 24 hours to blend flavors. Will keep in refrigerator for up to two months.