10 August, 2010

Quick Cold-Pack Pickles

Right now, I am just about up to my ass in cucumbers.  Although my vines are dying back because of bacterial wilt carried by cucumber beetles (damn them) Over the past few weeks we've been harvesting far more pickling cukes than we can possibly eat fresh.  We've already made a couple of batches of Maryanne's Bread and Butter pickles, and now we are starting to make cold-packed Polish Dill pickles.

These are really easy.  All you need to do is put some aromatics like dill, garlic, and mustard seed on the bottom of a big jar, fill the jar up with freshly pickeld and cut cucumbers, and pour the jar to the top with a prepared brine.  Then cap the jar off and stash it in the back of the fridge for a week or so to mature.  It's simple, and delicious,

The recipe I'm going to share here, like many of the other recipes I've developed over the years, has been swiped and copied into recipe databases all over the internet, often without attribution.  But you can be sure that wherever you find this recipe, it originated in my kitchen regardless of whether or not I'm credited.

As written, the recipe will make a gallon of dill spears.  Feel free to adjust it as necessary and tweak the seasonings if you like.  (Some people like to reduce the amount of mustard seed, for example - my recipe makes a traditional New England-style mustard-flavored dill pickle.

Dave's Cold Packed Polish Dills
1 gallon
4 pounds Pickling cucumbers
8  Dill heads
6  Cloves of garlic (or possibly more)
8 cups Water
2 cups White vinegar
1/2 cup Pickling salt (or 3.5 oz by weight)
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
4 teaspoon Whole mustard seed

Wash and dry the cucumbers; prick a few holes in each with a fork, or possibly quarter them lengthwise. Peel and break the garlic cloves.

Place half of the dill heads in the bottom of a clean 1-gallon jar. Add in the garlic, crushed red pepper, and mustard seed. Pack loosely with cucumbers and top with the remaining dill. Chill while preparing brine.

Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a saucepan. Heat to boiling, then cool to room temperature. Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers, making sure they are covered. Screw a lid on the jar and store in the fridge for about 4 weeks before serving. If you've quartered the cucumbers instead of leaving them whole, they will be ready somewhat sooner (two weeks instead).

Ingredients can also be divided between four 1-qt widemouth jars. It is it more convenient to make a gallon jar batch (takes less of a footprint in the refrigerator) and then divide up the pickles later into separate jars when they're ready to eat. (Which frees up the jar for the next batch, too) 


Anonymous said...

These look delicious.... every year I make quick pickles and they never turn out quite right. I will be trying this! Thanks for the recipe!

Carla said...

these look great..... last year was my first time pickling and it came out nicely...this year I forgot to add any water (my recipe didn't call for any) and I found them too vinegary....I will have to try your recipe

auntjone said...

I am jealous. I tried growing cukes for the first time this year (bush variety due to space constraints) and it started out fabulous- lush leaves, lots of blooms, then it went to hell. Not sure what got it but I got exactly 3 mutant cucumbers. Maybe next year! I will keep your recipe in mind just in case I ever find myself up to my ass in cucumbers.

grey74 said...

You have mustard seed listed twice. Is the second listing of mustard seed supposed to be something else?

Dave said...

Thanks for catching my typo, grey74 - I did have mustard seed listed twice, and it should only have been there once, and I've fixed it now.

I guess when i was writing out the recipe I was thinking about how you could cut the amount of mustard seed in half if the flavor was too strong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,Can apple cider vinegar be used????

Dave said...

Yes, you can use cider vinegar. It might give the pickles a darker color, though.

Teachpad said...

I made these last year, and they were absolutely the best pickles that I have ever made, and boy howdy, were they easy to make. I'm making another gallon or two today. Thank you so much for this recipe.

George said...

What jars should be use...any containers from other pickled products? How should they cleaned?...thx...bye George...(~.-)

Dave said...

George - You can use any jars you have available. They don't have to be mason jars, because you won't be processing them in boiling water. When I make a big batch of pickles, I use gallon jars I've saved from buying the big jars of Vlasic pickles at Costco.

Anonymous said...

How long will they keep in the fridge? They will not last long but i had to ask.

Dave said...

They'll keep about three months or so. The flavor gradually changes as they age (not for the worse, the pickles just get more of a pickled flavor and less of that "half sour" fresh cucumber taste.) Eventually they do go bad though if they're kept too long. The pickles get soft and squishy and a cloudy white mold will start swimming around in the bottom of the jar.

Pooterduude said...


I have had your Pickles in my Now You're Cooking Software for over 10 years! As it sits. I modify it slightly. I only use 1 teaspoons of mustard seed plus I add a teaspoon of dill seed and about 3 or 4 alspice berries. I think this makes it a bit closer to the Clausen Dills sold in Stores.

I would suggest you rewrite your recipe to add the WEIGHT of the salt. Volume measurements are not consistent enough to guarantee the same salinity from batch to batch, year to year.

I ruined one batch just due to changing granule size.

Dave said...

I had never considered the weight vs. volume of the salt as a problem because I always buy the same brand of kosher pickling salt. Thanks for the suggestion, and you'll see that I've added the weight of the salt I use - 3.5 ounces - to the ingredient list.

weisswoman said...

These freaking rock! 2 weeks to glorious perfection! crunch.... crunch....

Pooterduude said...


I just made up a batch of your pickles. Darn they're good. I was curious about the salt. I measured out several different types of salt in 3.5 OZ quantities and measured them for volume.

KOSHER salt is about 1/2 Cup
REAL SALT brand natural sea salt 6 2/3 TBSP

Morton is a VERY VERY fine salt and is quite heavy by volume. 3.5 Oz is almost exactly 1/3rd cup. Kosher Salt is fluffy and extremely light and closer to 1/2 cup


Dave said...

Diamond Kosher salt. Half a cup weighs 3.5 ounces. But if you're doing it by weight, the volume should no longer matter.

Anonymous said...

I think I have a problem Dave. I made cold packed cukes and refrigerated them for a month. Husband brought home an elk and we had to empty the fridge. Son brought the cukes over to the neighbors but forgot to tell her to put them in the fridge. Got them back 3 weeks later. they look ok but are they safe to eat?

Elana said...

Thanks for the recipe - Question follows at end: Made a gallon's worth with fresh from our garden cukes (a mixture of types, mostly pickling). REALLY good; we are wrapping the pickles in a slice of rosemary ham, then wrapped again with a slice of pepper Jack cheese - YUM. These pickles are disappearing much quicker than I thought the would and I am close to having a gallon glass jar with left over pickling brine. Can I re-use it? Still have cukes growing, would love to re-use the mixture but need to know if this is OK.

Dave said...

Elana - I reuse the jars all the time, but I don't reuse the brine because the cukes "eat up" the salt. So for each batch of pickles, I make up a fresh batch.

chika said...

Do you use pickling vinegar or regular vinegar?

Dave said...

I have no idea what you are talking about, chika. Where I live, vinegar is 5% acidity, and that's what I use.

mfire said...

A few weeks ago I found your recipe. Unfortunately, they did not make it the full 4 weeks and I am finishing up our second batch - They are SO good. Love this recipe! Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

I made these but after two days my jars still have not sealed. How long does it take for the lids to seal. so upset that none of them have sealed.

Dave said...

They're cold packed pickles, Linda. They're not going to seal - they are meant to be kept in the fridge and used within a few months.

Unknown said...

3 years ago, I found this website .. I love to cook and prepare can goods when I'm not working as a auto mechanic. With my extensive garden every year, I used your initial recipe and my home grown cucumbers and dill but with a few tweaks;
9 cups of steamed distilled water
2 cups of Heinz white distilled vinegar
1/2 of Morton canning salt
12 hand crushed garlic cloves
4 tsp of yellow mustard seed
1/2 tsp or red pepper flakes
2 tsp of dill seed
6 whole allspice berries
Combination of fresh dill heads and sprigs
4 lbs of freshly picked cucumbers
Here's the twist. I made a devise using a a/c vacuum pump along with a 5gallon container. I put several jars of your cold pack pickles in container , close lid and turn on vacuum pump until I hear a pop then additional 10 minutes to kill off any bacteria. Release slowly. Now these pickles can be store in frig or wine cellar away from light. I have one jar that lasted over a year and was still crispy. Thanks for the recipe . Thought you outta know, J. E. G.