Kids in the Kitchen: How to Make Refrigerator Pickles
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We’re all about learning real-life skills over here so, today we’re sharing a super easy way to make refrigerator pickles at home! These pickles are ridiculously delicious and we’re pretty sure you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make a batch or two…or five.
My son is a foodie like I am. He’ll try everything once and is always coming up with his own recipes and ideas for meals. For as long as I can remember, he’s wanted to be a chef when he grows up and even dreams about opening his own restaurant. Whether he does end up being a chef or goes into another career field when he’s grown, it’s important that he knows how to cook and create delicious meals. Keeping this in mind, I’ve chosen some of our homeschool curriculum in part because they include recipes and do my best to include him in any food prep or grocery shopping decisions.
Every summer, we’re lucky enough to be able to plant our very own vegetable garden in our back yard. We tend to get a pretty substantial harvest, but we’ll still join a local CSA to supplement and encourage the entire family to eat more fruits and vegetables.
In our CSA share this week, we got broccoli, carrots, mint, Boston lettuce, zucchini, and…..the star of this article and recipe…Kirby Cucumbers! We’ll have no problem eating everything else before our pickup next week, but we got a half a bushel of Kirby Cucumbers and, even for us, that’s a heck of a lot of cucumbers.
You know what we did with those cucumbers? You guessed it: make refrigerator pickles!
Kirby Cucumbers are perfect for making refrigerator pickles because, although they are pretty small (generally about 6 inches long or so), they fit perfectly inside of glass mason jars! They also have a thin skin and small seeds, so they’ll absorb the pickle brine quickly and result in a near perfect pickle.
If you’re able to get the kids involved with making refrigerator pickles, definitely do so! This is a great starter recipe to do with kids because you won’t be using any hot ingredients, you’ll be teaching them a life skill, and it’ll help give them an appreciation of fresh fruits and vegetables while experiencing “farm to table.”
Before you start making the refrigerator pickles, there are a few things you should know:
- Refrigerator pickles are NOT shelf stable and will need to be refrigerated. Make sure you have room in your fridge before whipping up a batch.
- The fresher, the better! We use all fresh ingredients to make refrigerator pickles because it makes them taste better. Feel free to experiment using dried dill seasoning or garlic granules if you’d like, but we prefer fresh.
- It could get messy! In our home, peeling garlic often results in a dirty kitchen floor, so keep the pets out of the kitchen and a broom or vacuum nearby.
- This recipe can be personalized however you’d like. I am very much an “add ingredients until my ancestors tell me to stop” type of person, so, go with your gut and feel free to make changes if you’d like.
- The brine (aka “pickle juice”) can be reused! If you have more cucumbers you’d like to turn into pickles, just stick them in the brine and repeat the refrigeration process again.
- This recipe is NOT limited to use with cucumbers! Try it out with other vegetables, too: zucchini, carrots, radishes…who knows what will become your next family favorite!
Ingredients for Refrigerator Pickles
- Fresh Kirby Cucumbers
- if you need to use a different type of cucumber, that’s ok!
- Fresh Garlic Gloves
- Fresh Dill
- we use organic distilled
- using regular table salt is ok because you will not be canning the pickles. Feel free to use sea salt or kosher salt if you prefer as well
- OPTIONAL: peppercorns, red pepper flakes, mustard seed
- we DO NOT use these ingredients, but feel free to try them out for your batch if you’d like!
Gadgets and Tools for Making Refrigerator Pickles
- glass jars that can be sealed
- we use Quart-size Wide Mouth Mason Jars, but feel free to reuse any glass jars that you might have. Refrigerator pickles NOT be canned, so you do not need to use jars specific for canning.
- cutting board
- sharp chef’s knife (I’d love to know what types of knives you use. We need to get a new set! Let me know!)
- garlic peeler
- these aren’t necessarily required, but are a low-cost gadget that saves us time. My son LOVES to use ours!
- glass measuring bowl with spout
- small bowls to hold peeled and prepared ingredients
- a tablespoon
How to Make Refrigerator Pickles
- Clean your glass jars and lids well. Set them on your workspace
- Wash and dry fresh dill and cucumbers. Set them on your workspace
- In a large glass measuring bowl with spout, measure and mix together the following:
- 3 cups of vinegar
- 3 cups of water
- 4 Tablespoons of salt
- Prepare your dill by removing stems and placing dill in a small bowl
- Prepare your garlic by removing cloves from the bulb and then removing the peel from each clove. Place prepared dill in a small bowl.
- In the bottom of each glass jar, place an even amount of dill and garlic cloves
- I do a small handful of dill and about 6 garlic cloves. We LOVE garlic!
- Prepare cucumbers by cutting them into spears or slices
- I cut each cucumber into 6 spears, but you can make yours bigger/smaller if you’d like
- Stuff those cucumbers into the glass jars
- I can usually get about 3 cucumbers in each quart-size jar
- Give the water/vinegar/salt mixture another stir to make sure the salt has all dissolved.
- If you have any remaining dill, divide it evenly in the top of each jar.
- Feel free to add another garlic clove or two to the top of each jar.
- remember, we LOVE garlic, so feel free to ignore this step if you don’t want your pickles garlicky enough to ward off all vampires within a 50-mile radius.
- Pour the water/vinegar/salt mixture into each jar, making sure to cover the tops of the cucumbers.
- Place the lid on top of the glass jars and put into the refrigerator. You’ll have delicious dill refrigerator pickles in about 24 hours!
Your refrigerator pickles should last about a month in the fridge, but, when our refrigerator pickles are all brined-up and ready for devouring, they are all usually consumed within about 2 weeks. (Yes, you read that right!)
In addition to eating our refrigerator pickles right out of the jar, we’ll make dill pickle relish out of them (just chop those pickles up!) or include them in low-carb “lettuce sandwiches” (spread some may or avocado in the center then place a layer of turkey lunch meat, sliced cheese, salt & oregano, and a pickle in the middle – delish!).
As you can see, it’s super easy to make refrigerator pickles whether by yourself or with the kids in the kitchen. I’m still working on knife skills with my boys, but they can take care of every other step on their own. So cool, right?
We hope you enjoy making your own refrigerator pickles with, and for, your family, too!
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy some quality time with your family,