In the garden, dill and cucumber are companion plants, and in the pickle jar cucumber and dill are seriously best friends. Americans eat more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles annually (as of the publication date of this article) and a great many of them are dill cucumber pickles. Dill pickles must rest to develop flavor. The taste of the pickling solution and dill permeates the cucumber over time to produce the classic pickle taste. How long the pickles must rest, though, depends on the recipe.
The simplest, fastest dill pickle is the refrigerator pickle. To make refrigerator dill pickles, mix sliced cucumbers with vinegar, salt, sugar, dill, garlic and onion. Put them in a jar with a tight lid. Shake the jar a couple of times a day for five days. The pickles will be ready to eat in five days to one week.
Fresh-pack pickles are canned using a low-temperature pasteurization treatment method to preserve their crispness. To make fresh-pack pickles, pack the cucumbers into jars with dill, garlic and spices. Pour boiling pickling solution over the top and process the jars in a hot water bath canner. Once the jars have processed and sealed, store them. They will be ready to eat in four to five weeks.
Fermented pickles are aged in stone crocks. To make fermented pickles, mix cucumbers, dill, salt and vinegar in a large crock. Weight the pickles to keep them submerged. The speed of fermentation depends on the temperature. If the temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the pickles will be ready in three to four weeks. If the temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the pickles will take five to six weeks. Once ready, they can be eaten immediately or canned in jars. The flavor will continue to develop in the jar.
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You can also make recycled pickles using the liquid from store-bought pickles. Slice cucumbers or other vegetables into the brine left after you've finished the jar of pickles. These pickles, which are actually more marinated vegetables than pickles, will be ready in a couple of days.
Susan Peterson is the author of five books, including "Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contact Athletes" and "Clare: A Novel." She holds a Ph.D. in text theory from the University of Texas at Arlington and is an avid cook and gardener.