There’s nothing more refreshing and satisfying that biting into a cold and crispy pickle. That cool salty flavor coming from the brine that’s soaked into the pickle makes this a great side for your next barbecue, when you’re making sandwiches or when you simply want a quick snack. While your grocery store probably has a number of pickle varieties to choose from, you can opt to make your own quick pickles at home. It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients, not a lot of prep work is needed, and you’ll have jars of pickles that will last for months.
Choosing Your Cucumbers
While they may seem very similar, you want to choose a pickling cucumber instead of the traditional English variety. The pickling cucumbers will stay a lot firmer in the brine, allowing them to become really crisp. English cucumbers would simply become very soft over time, even with refrigeration.
When you pick them out, make sure the exterior of the pickling cucumbers are free of imperfections. They should also be firm and fresh. Avoid buying anything that looks shriveled or soft.
How to Make Pickles Using These Spices
For this easy pickle recipe, we’re going to be making the dill pickle variety. You’ll need to purchase dill seed ahead of time. Your grocery store might not have it readily available unless it’s pickling season, so try looking online or at a specialty grocery store. Other ingredients include garlic and red pepper flakes, which are a lot easier to find. Once you have your basic pickle recipe mastered, you can try playing around with the flavor a little bit. Try adding black peppercorns, celery seed or mustard seed to your brine.
How to Make Pickles at Home Using a Pickling Brine
A pickling brine is made up of equal parts cider vinegar and water. You can try different vinegars if you would like. Mixed into the vinegar will be salt and spices. This brine is then poured over the top of the cucumbers. You can choose whether you want to use whole pickling cucumbers, slices or spears. You have the option to eat them right away, but they get much better the longer you wait. You want plenty of time for that brine to soak into the pickles.
How to Make Pickles when Canning
If you want to process your pickles so they can be stored in your pantry throughout the year, you’ll need to place the jars in a hot water bath for about five minutes. While you get a longer shelf life with this process, the pickles can end up being a little bit softer due to the high temperatures. Feel free to skip this step. The pickles will then need to be kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Easy Pickle Ingredients
- 1 ½ pounds of pickling cucumbers
- 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
- 2 teaspoons dill seed
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar (or vinegar of your choosing)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt
Before you begin, prepare your jars if you’re going to be canning your pickles. You’ll need to sterilize the jars in boiling water for a few minutes. If you’re only making the refrigerator variety, make sure your jars or containers are clean by washing them with soap and water.
Prepare the pickling cucumbers by washing and drying them. Cut the ends off, and cut the pickles into whatever shape you’re going to be using. You can also leave them whole.
The spices should be added into each of the jars before anything else goes inside. Place an equal mixture of garlic and dill into the jars. Include any other ingredients that you’ve decided to use.
Place your sliced cucumbers into each jar. You want to leave a little bit of space so the brine can get around each of the cucumbers, and the spices should be able to flow freely.
Heat up your vinegar and water over high heat. Once it is boiling, pour the mixture into the jars so the cucumbers are completely covered. Leave about ½ inch of space at the top. Tap the container gently on the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
Place the lids on the jars. Process the jars if you are preparing them for long term storage.
The pickles should be left to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, place processed pickles into your pantry. Unprocessed pickles should go into the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pickling is a great way to preserve fresh cucumbers or other produce throughout the year. In the area where you live, there may be a time of year when you can find the best and freshest pickling cucumbers. However, you can complete the pickling process no matter what month it is. Don’t limit yourself to just traditional dill pickles. There are other vegetables that pickle very nicely, such as green beans, cauliflower and peppers.
Optimally, you should let your pickles sit for about four weeks before you open up a jar and try them, but two weeks will suffice if you’re in a hurry to take a nibble. This gives the pickles enough time to absorb all the flavors from the brine. There are some fast refrigerator pickle recipes that require a lot less time.
Pickles are usually made using glass jars because of the ability to seal and preserve the glass jars. The process of canning requires you to disinfect and seal the jars using boiling water. If you were to complete this process using plastic, you would compromise the integrity of the plastic. If you’re just making one or two batches of the pickles and keeping them in the refrigerator for a short amount of time, plastic would be an acceptable container choice.
Pickling salt is preferred for how to make pickle because it has a much finer consistency that regular table salt. This allows is to absorb into the pickles easier, and it will dissolve in the brine mixture. It also doesn’t contain any iodine or products that prevent the salt from clumping.
Pickles are a very low calorie food, making them perfect as a side or even a snack. Your average smaller-sized pickle is about 15 calories.