In a Pickle

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.

Refrigerator Pickles

Pickle Ingredients:

  • 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

Brine Ingredients:

  • 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.

The Wife

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11 thoughts on “In a Pickle

  1. Nice- we will do this in the next few weeks (we will be back east and will make a batch). We like bread n butter style- but we pretty much like any pickle…

  2. Just curious how many times you’ve made these? I just made a gallon jar and followed your recipe. The pickles were AWESOME for about a week or two. Now I’ve got a weird rubbery thing going on in the jar and they are starting to taste different (i.e. not delicious). The jar has been refrigerated properly. Anyone else have the same problem? What could be the problem?

    • I have made them twice (once with too much vinegar, and once with the proper amount). I still have two jars left, and I just went and tasted one. They taste fine, and it’s been a few months.

      The problem could be a few things: not cutting off the blossom end, not putting enough brine in the jar to completely cover the pickles, and not using vinegar with %5 acidity (which most store-bought vinegars are) can all cause rubbery, weird pickles.

      If you need more information, go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website The have more information than you could ever hope to find anywhere else; and it’s up to date!

      If anyone else has any suggestions I hope they chime in; your pickles should still taste great!

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