In my garden, for whatever reason, cucumbers seem to take “be fruitful and multiply” quite literally. This year, the little buggers even got shredded by hail. I mourned their early death, only to be surprised by new vines dotted with yellow flowers with the promise of many more cucumbers to come. To deal with the annual bumper crop, I’ve tried my hand at pickles of all kinds–fast dills, slow dills, dills with spices, dills with hot peppers, horseradish, etc, etc, etc…
I have a love-hate relationship with my cucumbers. There’s not much better, garden-wise, than crunching into a baby cucumber, still warm from the sun, or popping open a mason jar of homemade pickles for a barbeque. On the flip side of that double-edged sword, cucumbers don’t pickle themselves! They demand to be brined, fermented or pickled in vinegar, and canned in a water bath canner, which involves a considerable amount of time standing in a steamy kitchen in late summer days.
There are tricks to making the pickles stay crisp (which never work as well as I want them to): cutting off the blossom end, using strange and unusual powdered preservatives (um, no.), canning the same day of harvest, etc, etc, etc. Can I tell you a dirty little secret? Although I continue to can pickles the time-intensive way, so that I can eat them year round, I much prefer the taste, crispness, and minimal effort of refrigerator pickles.
These pickles were born out of my sadistic need to create an even spicier pickle than ever before. Dried habañeros give them a time-released heat. The first couple weeks after they are ready to eat, they have a slight honey sweetness and a little bit of a spicy undertone. By November, they are so spicy that you can’t help but give a little Woo! when you bite into one. I gave a jar to a spice-loving friend at work, and she took them out for lunch every day, face flushed and eyes watering. They’re so good! I just can’t stop eating them!.
This recipe goes out to all my fellow spicy spooners. You can forget about spending hours over the steaming canner for these ones. May your cucumber harvest be plentiful and your spice tolerance be high!
- 3 pounds pickling cucumbers
- 1 pound small onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1½ teaspoons celery seeds
- 3 large cloves garlic, halved
- 6 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- ½ cup plus 1 TB mild honey
- 1½ teaspoons turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6-12 dried habañeros (more or less to taste, depending on level of heat desired)*
- Cut the blossom end off of each cucumber and slice into ¼ inch rounds. Put the cucumber slices and onion slices into a large bowl. Toss with the mustard seeds and celery seeds, and set aside.
- In a non-reactive pot, combine the vinegar, honey, turmeric, mustard powder and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.
- Put a garlic clove into each of 3 clean, quart-size canning jars. Begin to pack the cucumber-onion mixture into the jars snugly, but without forcing. Layer the dried habañeros in the jar as you go. Ladle the hot brine into the jars, and close with the lids. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for two days before eating. Continue to store in the refrigerator.
- *Dried habañeros can be ordered online, or found at specialty spice shops, such as Savory Spice. Be careful when handling the chiles. It's best to wear gloves!
Thanks Geraldine! Glad you found my blog!
Oh my gosh! I just saw these on FB and got so excited! I want to make them right now!!! How long do they last in the fridge? Thanks so much for sharing!
Hi Vanessa! I’m with you on the excitement! I love these things! Supposedly, refrigerator pickles keep for about 3 months. I’ve had them last for longer though, although we usually end up eating these before 3 months is up!
Great! I’m sure I’ll finish them before then too! 🙂
Joanne Rochester, RN says
Your aunt Janet in Seattle shared your blog with me because I just completed canning my dill pickles. I actually have my husband drive north of Seattle and purchase 70 lbs of mixed small/med cukes while I am at home getting ready. They are actually picking the cukes while he is driving to get them. It is important that the cukes go directly from the vine to the brine!
Here are come facts about pickles: Cleopatra was said to love pickles because she thought they would make her more beautiful! These treats broke into show business about 400 years ago when one of Shakespeare’s players in “The Tempest” asked, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” The first pickle-packing plant was established in France in 1820. Cucumber pickles contain Vitamin A, C, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and phosphorus. The average-size dill pickle has five calories.
Joanne Rochester, RN
Morgan McKenna says
Do I get to taste these Wednesday??
Yum yum yum! I loved the before and after photos of the pickles!
Auntie Karen says
I love the picture of the raw fresh cucumbers all in a row…they look so cute & ready to jump in a jar! I’ve never met a pickle I didn’t like but never enjoyed canning them either, never tasted right to me. Refrigerator pickles are doable even for the pickle-impaired like me 🙂
This recipe sounds awesome! I love all the ingredients in this!
Your Aunt Karen Ward sent me over to your blog. 🙂 We are friends from church and bible study collaborators. When she found out that I’m a food photographer enthusiast and a blogger she was excited to share your site too. So glad she did!!
following your blog now. 🙂
This recipe looks like somthing my husband will LOVE! What is the lifespan on refrigerator pickles?