Cucumbers can be a valuable addition to many dishes. They add fantastic fresh flavor to my Tzatziki on some creamy-crunchy Black-Eyed Pea Falafel. A few slices of cucumber and a squeeze of lemon juice transforms ordinary water into sippable spa heaven. Sushi isn’t really sushi without some cucumber strips inside. I’m totally intrigued by Joy the Baker’s Cucumber Gin Salt and Pepper Cups.
Homemade pickles are crazy simple to make and their flavor is unmatched by grocery store brands. Kirby cucumbers are classic for pickling, but Persian cucumbers also work well. I used mini snacking cucumbers and they were excellent. No matter what type you choose, just make sure they are firm and unwrinkled – fresh cucumbers will make crisper pickles.
Cucumbers don’t pack in as much nutrition as other green vegetables, but they still have some great qualities. They are about 95% water, making them a hydration-promoting food. They contain sterols, a compound that competes with dietary cholesterol for absorption in the gut and may help lower blood cholesterol as a result. Cucumbers also make great breath fresheners! Enjoy tossed in salads, shaken into infused water, or dipped in salad dressing or yogurt sauce for a quick snack. Mix with fresh dill and you can’t possibly go wrong.
Spicy dill refrigerator pickles
Makes 1 quart
Note: These pickles are tangy with a medium kick. For more serious spice, use 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cut 1 jalapeno pepper in half lengthwise and tuck it in the jar with the cucumbers.
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 sprigs fresh dill
3 cups sliced cucumber, 1/4″ in thickness (I used 5 mini cucumbers)
1 garlic clove, halved
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- Combine water, vinegar, sea salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- In a sterilized quart-sized mason jar, place the dill, cucumber slices, garlic clove, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over the jar contents and seal tightly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before eating, but the flavor will develop further after sitting overnight.