Why It Works
- A balanced mix of vinegar and water gives you pickles that are sharp and fresh, but not overwhelmingly tart.
- Heating the brine before pouring it over the cucumbers speeds up the flavoring process.
- Covering the cucumbers with a paper towel ensures that they stay submerged.
I know that making real-deal, lacto-fermented pickles the old-fashioned way, with nothing but vegetables, salt, a few microscopic critters, and time, is all the rage, but I feel like the humble quick pickle is unfairly maligned. I've made my share of sauerkraut, kimchi, and naturally fermented cucumber pickles, and they're delicious, but frankly, none of them is a substitute for the crisp, clean, straightforward acidic bite you get from a simple, vinegar-based quick pickle.
Part of the reason I love these simple dill pickle chips for hamburgers and sandwiches is that they're so easy. All you've got to do is cut your vegetables, boil a brine, and pour it on top. Half an hour later, by the time your burgers are cooked, your pickles will be ready to go, with a fresher flavor and heartier crunch than anything you can get at the supermarket.
For my pickles, I use a basic brine of equal parts water and white vinegar, along with some kosher salt. (I like my pickles on the salty side, so I use around 3% salt by weight for the brine. You can use a little less if you'd like.) I flavor it with garlic, black peppercorns, and dill—the three basic flavors of a dill pickle—as well as some yellow mustard seeds and red pepper flakes, for just a bit of kick. I boil all the aromatics together with the brine, then pour it over sliced Kirby cucumbers, which have a denser texture and take better to pickling than watery American or English cucumbers. (There's a reason they're referred to as "pickling cucumbers.")
One trick I picked up when I used to make pickles by the five-gallon tub: You have to keep the cucumbers submerged in order for them to pick up flavor evenly. The easiest way to do this at home is to fold over a kitchen towel or paper towel and place it directly on top of the surface of the brine, which will ensure that everything stays submerged. If you happen to really scale this up and make several quarts or gallons at a time, you'll need a heavier weight to keep the cucumbers submerged. For that, you can lay a kitchen towel on top of the surface of the liquid, then place a zipper-lock bag filled with water directly on top of it.
These pickles are great after just half an hour, but they'll continue to pick up flavor from the brine as they rest. Once they've cooled, you can store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month. (If you want to know the truth, I sometimes keep them way, way longer than that.)
How to Make Quick Dill Pickles to Top Burgers and Sandwiches
2 Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces; 225g total)
1 cup (240ml) water
1 cup (240ml) distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon (about 15g) kosher salt (see notes)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 medium cloves garlic, roughly sliced
2 teaspoons (6g) black peppercorns
2 teaspoons (6g) whole yellow mustard seeds
2 sprigs fresh dill
Place cucumber slices in a bowl that just fits them. Heat water, vinegar, salt, pepper flakes, garlic, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and dill in a skillet over high heat until salt has dissolved and mixture is simmering. Immediately pour brine over cucumbers. Cover bowl with a paper towel pressed directly against the surface of the liquid to keep cucumbers submerged. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving (do not drain brine). Pickles can be stored in their brine in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
This recipe can easily be scaled up; just make enough brine to fully submerge the cucumbers you're pickling. It will also work with other vegetables, like green beans, snap peas, and carrots.
The salt-to-liquid ratio called for here will produce a salty pickle that's a great foil for meaty burgers. For milder pickles, reduce the salt by half.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|