Could I refrigerate dill pickles to consolidate for water bath later?

Asked July 28, 2019, 10:17 AM EDT

I planted 6 dill pickle plants (labeled "Dill Pickles" so I don’t really know what kind they are) and built a trellis from cattle panel. I hoped they would grow roughly the same size at the same time, or at least enough of them to have enough for a batch of dills using a water bath. That hasn’t happened. My question is whether or not I can follow a water bath recipe, refrigerate what I have, and then bring them to room temperature for the water bath once I have enough so I can simply put them on my shelf.

Ingham County Michigan

1 Response

Hello, I understand your conflict. To make sure I'm addressing the question - I want to do this from a couple of angles:

First, cucumbers are best stored at room temperature, not in the fridge. The fridge can inflict "chilling injuries" on them. If you are going to chill them, do so for just 1-3 days (in the front of the shelf, not in the bottom - as these are the warmest places of your fridge. Also when storing at room temp, do so away from bananas, tomatoes and melons as they produce ethylene and can expedite the ripening.

Secondly - I think this is really what you are asking - and that is can you prepare the brine and store in the fridge until you have enough to fill a canner. This is an interesting question. Generally a pickled product can be stored for roughly 6 weeks once opened. I'm thinking that this would probably be safe if:

  • You hold it in the fridge though for a minimal time (probably no more than 1 week).
  • You would want to store the cukes in the solution in a different container - a large bowl for example.
  • Remove the cukes from the fridge, drain the brine to a pot & heat, also heat the cleaned jars. Once heated, fill the jars with cukes and then the brine and process as recommended.
Another thought is if you are using a small jar, you could process it in a small stock pot (as long as you have a rack to fit in the bottom - which can be homemade from the rings that you use with lids - tied together with bread ties), and also as long as the jar can be covered with 1-2" of water. But then, this may defeat the whole purpose you are vying for.