Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

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My evenings seem to be filled nearly every night these days. If I’m not working on the project-that-will-never-die, then I’m either cleaning garlic, at the gym, trail running, doing something in the garden (either at home or at the community garden), writing my book, cooking dinner, or doing the dishes. There are other things going on, too I’m sure, but hell if I can remember. I do know with certainty that blogging hasn’t been one of them lately. But tonight I felt I needed to share my refrigerator pickle recipe because I have been eating these suckers like crazy the past several days. Oh! I just remembered something else. Kayaking! I did go this past weekend (Stinker loves, loves, loves, to go kayaking):

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Alrighty. Back to pickles. I got a handful of pickling cucumbers from one of our new CSA growers last week, just to try out. Not enough to process with a water bath and all that jazz, so I decided on the quickie route—refrigerator pickles. Simple. Easy. Delicious. What more could you want from a handful of pickling cukes? I wanted to do dill pickles, but with a little spice. I found a recipe from Bobby Flay, then altered it to suit my needs and what I had on hand. They definitely have a little kick to them! And not just heat from the pepper flakes, but the vinegar is strong, too–just how I like it! I didn’t have 4 cups of rice vinegar, so I used a combination of rice vinegar and regular vinegar. You could mix it up, I suppose, and use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar if you wanted (Want pink pickles?  Try red wine vinegar!  NOTE: I have not tried made pickles using red wine vinegar, so attempt at your own risk). This is also a good way to use up some of those dill seed heads that might be taking over your garden right now.  The dill isn’t as strong as I originally thought it might be, so if you really want a strong dill flavor, I suggest doubling the dill weed to 2/3 cup.  Aren’t they beautiful sitting in their jars?

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Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles (makes about 2 pints)

3 cups plain white vinegar

1 cup rice vinegar (this is the same thing as rice wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons of honey, approximately

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your heat tolerance–this is definitely enough for a nice kick)

1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns (or use a mix of red, pink, black, white, green!)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

scant 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon dry toasted cumin seeds (toast in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes–you’ll smell them–remove from heat so as not to burn them)

1 tablespoon sea salt

a hefty handful of coarsely chopped fresh dill leaves (1/3 cup or so)

2 heads of dill seeds, broken into small segments

5 or 6 peeled, whole garlic cloves

1 teaspoon coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

5 or 6 medium pickling cucumbers, sliced (I sliced mine lengthwise, but you could slice them crosswise or quarter them)

Combine the first 10 ingredients (through salt) in a medium non-reactive (i.e., non aluminum) saucepan and bring to boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Add the dill leaves and cilantro.

Pack the cucumber slices into jars.  Divide the garlic cloves and dill seeds evenly between the jars.  Pour the cooled vinegar solution over the cucumber slices, screw on lids, and put in the refrigerator.  Let the pickles sit for 3 or 4 days before eating.  The longer they sit, the stronger they get!  The other great thing about refrigerator pickles?  They stay crispy without liming them because you aren’t cooking them in a boiling water bath!

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