Refrigerator Pickles




Introduction: Refrigerator Pickles

Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creati...

In this instructable, I'll show you how to make refrigerator pickles. These are as easy to make as they are to eat! Which is good, because in my house, they disappear quicker than you can say "Peter packed a peck of pickled peppers.". :D

Step 1: Safe Home Pickling

This recipe is a project that I made to go with my Instructables Canning & Preserving Class. I will not be going over all the safety ins and outs of pickling in this instructable, so I highly recommend that you read through Lessons 1 & 3 of my class before you give this recipe a go!

Step 2: Tools & Equipment

Here's what you'll need to make these delicious snacks:

*It's not necessary to sterilize the jars. Washing and drying them is enough as we'll be using cold storage in conjunction with the vinegar.

Step 3: Recipe

  • 2 lbs small pickling cucumbers*
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp light honey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 small grape leaves**
  • 2 large sprigs of dill or 1 tbsp dried dill weed

*You can substitute these small, jar sized cucumbers for pretty much any vegetable! Carrots, green beans, cauliflower, and asparagus are all delicious options, to name a few.

**Grape leaves are sold in jars packed in water or oil. I found mine at Whole Foods, but any Mediterranean market will also carry them. They are optional - they help keep the pickles crunchy - so don't worry if you can't find them!

Step 4: Making the Brine

To make the brine, add the water, vinegar, salt and honey to a medium saucepan on medium to high heat.

Give the ingredients a stir and bring the mix to a boil. Once the bubbles start roiling, turn off the burner and move the saucepan to a cool burner. Let the mix cool to room temperature while you prep the cucumbers.

Step 5: Prepping the Future Pickles

Weigh out your 2 lbs of pickling cucumbers. For me, that was 4 cukes.

Use a sharp chef's knife to remove the ends of the cucumbers and cut them into halves or spears.

Measure out the remaining ingredients and remove the skins from the garlic cloves.

Place one of the grape leaves (if using) in the bottom of the jar.

Add the garlic cloves, mustard seeds, and peppercorns.

Now it's time to 'build' your jar of almost pickles.

Tip the jar to a 45° angle with one hand while starting to stack in the cucumber spears with the other. As you build up layers of spears add in the remaining grape leaves and fresh dill as you go.

Once you've filled the jar, straighten it back up and add any remaining spears into any remaining spaces. Be forceful if necessary. As the cucumbers pickle, they will shrink a bit, so the more tightly packed they are in the jar, the less likely they are to float up out of the brine.

Like so!

Step 6: Adding the Brine

Once your brine has cooled back down to room temperature (feel free to speed that process along if necessary by sticking it in the fridge), fill the jar with brine until it covers the cucumbers completely.

There's no need to leave headspace for fridge pickles, like you would for anything to be canned.

Seal or secure the lid and you're done! Well, almost done. The only thing left to do is stick it in the fridge! The sooner the better.


Now that your fine work is chillin' in the fridge, kick back and give the pickling process 4-5 days to work its magic before serving.

Refrigerator pickles will last for up to 3 months in cold storage. But I'll bet you a Canadian quarter that they'll be long gone before then. ;)

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31 Discussions

Are these more of a sweet pickle because of the honey or are they a true dill pickle?

1 reply

I find the sweetness to be very mild and supportive of the yummy dill flavor. You can definitely skip the honey though if you prefer them straight up! :)

Work perfectly because the Properties and Substances of many of your recipe acts like inhibitor against bacteria and Organic Compounds acts like a super powerful conservation with other ways to preserve many other foods...

Congratulation!!! GREAT JOB AND GO AHEAD!!!

1 reply

Perfect timing! Great photos too. I was wondering if the grape leaves have to be the ones sold in jars or may I use some from picked from a grape vine?

1 reply

That's a great question! I've never tried fresh grape leaves, but it would be perfectly safe to try and I don't see why they wouldn't work! Let me know how it turns out if you give it a go!

Grape leaves contain a substance that inhibits the enzymes that make pickles soft. However, removing the blossom ends (the source of undesirable enzymes) will make the addition of grape leaves unnecessary according to the US National Center for Food Preservation...just a FYI

2 replies

Excuse me, but I don't speak "Botanese". Which is the "blossom end" of the pickle?

The opposite of the stem end. Both will have a mark where the stem or blossom came off, but the stem 'stump' is larger than the blossom stump.

I noticed your picture shows apple cider vinegar, but the recipe calls for white wine vinegar. I'm sure they'll both work fine, but I'm wondering which you prefer or what the resulting difference is between them.

2 replies

Great catch! I had forgotten to add apple cider vinegar as an option in the recipe (fixed!).

The biggest difference between the two vinegars is flavor. I find that apple cider vinegar has a stronger flavor, which I like, but not everyone does. If you're not already sure that cider vinegar is your jam, the white wine vinegar (or plain white vinegar) is a safer bet.

One other benefit of using apple cider vinegar is its purported health benefits.

Really any commercial vinegar will do!

Happy making,

I've just started making these, and a splash of rice vinegar, and smoked sea salt also adds a nice pop of flavor.

If you all like these.. you should try the room temp FERMENTED pickes! After around 4-5 days of lacto-fermentation (from the bacteria naturally present on the veggies & leaves), they're awesome! (then temp-shocked and stored in the fridge for up to a month). Wow.. the flavor is 4-5x better than just plain brining. Same idea as making home made sourkraut or kimchee. Amazing flavor and SUPER healthy for your gut biome.

What difference in brine would there be for watermelon pickles? It'd be nice to do those in "cold storage" if possible....

1 reply

Hey there.... that time of year again! fresh cukes, fridge pickles. one thing amiss - all my recipes call for pouring hot brine over cukes/ vegetables. Any comment?

1 reply

Hi jakewade,

I have definitely seen recipes that call for the hot brine for fridge pickles, but I've never understood why. The acidic environment that vinegar creates in conjunction with the low temperature of the fridge are more than adequate measures to keep any bad bacteria (spoilers) at bay. Besides that, heat only works as a spoiler fighter in food preservation when it's applied in a 'bigger' way, as in boiling water bath or pressure canning.

I also think that pouring hot brine on the cut cukes would soften them unnecessarily, removing the crisp crunch that I like in a fridge pickle. But to be fair, I've never tried it. What has your experience been with this?

When I make refrigerator dilly carrots (or any veggie other than cucumbers), I blanche them first to slow the enzymatic breakdown process and preserve the vibrant colors. Pouring a hot brine over these would make more sense to me, since they've already been heated, to save time instead of waiting for the brine to cool.

Ultimately, you should do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. It's certainly not going to hurt to use hot brine. Just make sure it's not too hot, otherwise it can crack the room temp jar.

Happy summer preserving!

Is there a difference between "refrigerator" pickles and just regular pickled cucumbers a.k.a. pickles? I thought preserving was the whole purpose of pickling.

2 replies

ShayS7 is right about the crunchiness! Another important difference is that refrigerator pickles rely on the combination of high acid vinegar and cold storage to keep bad bacteria away.

Pickles that can be kept at room temperature until the jar is opened (most store bought pickles), also rely on the highly acidic environment the vinegar creates, but needs this in conjunction with the boiling water bath canning process (high heat) and air tight seal of the jar lid to keep new spoilers out.

Every food preserving technique is different and relies on a different combo of the bacteria controls to safely preserve food. To learn more about this topic, check out my free Instructables Canning & Preserving Class!

Refrigerator pickles are crunchier. Pickles that are process in a hot water bath are cooked by the process and are a tad limp.