The Renaissance Man and I are pickle snobs. We do not care for the rubbery, dark pickles on the condiment aisle of the grocery store. They leave us wanting more.
Instead, we binge on Claussen dill pickles; crisp, sour and salty, they do not taste like rubber.
The difference between the two types of pickles is simple: the kind that sits on the warm shelf has been heat-processed, robbing the pickles of their crunch. Claussens are what are commonly referred to as “refrigerator pickles”. They are not heat-processed, instead relying on the brine and refrigeration to keep them fresh.
I went to the farmer’s market to pick up some small pickling cucumbers this past weekend so I could attempt to re-create Claussen’s recipe.
- 25-30 small pickling cucumbers (not the big, waxed monsters at the grocery store)
- per jar: 1 garlic clove
- per jar: 5 black peppercorns
- per jar: 1 dill head
- per jar: 1 whole allspice
- per jar: 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
- 2 qt. water
- 1 1/2 C. cider vinegar
- 1/2 C. pickling salt
Step 1: Wash the cucumbers. Cut the ends off, and leave whole, or slice into halves or quarters, whatever your preference.
Step 2: Into each clean jar (or dump it all into one big jar) place the “per jar” ingredients.
This is a dill head:
If you can’t get fresh dill, use dill seed (not weed). about 1/2 tsp. per jar ought to do.
Once everything’s in the jar (I chopped the garlic) pack the cucumbers in on top of the spices.
Step 3: Prepare the brine by mixing everything together and heating to just a boil.
Step 4: Pour the brine over the cucumbers until everything is submerged. Cap the jars loosely. If using canning jars, the lids should seal as the brine cools. If not, they’ll be stored in the fridge anyway. Canning jars are not required, but they are convenient.
Step 5: let the jars sit for 48 hours. Once or twice a day, invert the jars to distribute the spices.
After two days, store the pickles in the fridge. They should keep several months. Make sure the pickles are fully submerged in brine. Add more if necessary.
These really do taste like Claussen’s pickles. Eat them just as you would any other pickle; with a sandwich, on a hot dog, or standing in front of the fridge in the middle of the night.