Cooking 101: How To Make Your Own Pickles

Pickles are delicious. There is something about these zesty veggie products – that were once cucumbers in a former life – that we can’t get enough of. Whether we’re putting them on hot dogs, sandwiches or making them into relish, we consume a lot of pickles. If you are a picky pickle eater, perhaps you should consider making your own right at home so that you can control exactly how they end up tasting. While there are many easy recipes for making pickles, depending on whether you want a dill, gherkin or bread and butter variety, there are two methods for transforming your cucumber into a crunchy and flavorful pickle: traditional canning or in the refrigerator. For the simplest way to make pickles, let’s look at the refrigerator method.

Quick tips for selecting cucumbers for pickling
When choosing cucumbers from your backyard garden, be sure to pick them in the morning because this is when they will be the most flavorful. To grow a type of cucumber for the purpose of pickling, select varieties that are specified for this, such as County Fair or Regal, because they will have thinner skins that make it easier for them to absorb the liquid they will be soaking in. Look for cucumbers that are firm and free of any soft spots or blemishes that could indicate mold or bug bites. Once you’ve selected your cucumbers, wash and pickle them within the next couple of days.

If you don’t have your own garden, try to buy your cucumbers from a farmers market or organic food store because chain supermarkets often coat these veggies in wax to retain their moisture. This will make them bad for pickling because the wax will also prevent them from absorbing the liquid they are being soaked in.

The great thing about refrigerated pickles is that you don’t need any fancy canning equipment or pressure-sealed jars to preserve the pickles. This also allows you to be a little more creative with the jars you use. Look for unique vintage jars at thrift stores or other retailers to dress up your pickles, especially if you want to hand them out as gifts!

There are many of recipes on the web for making pickles, like this easy one from Start out with one that already has proven success and then feel free to experiment with ingredients to customize it to your preferences.

Spicy refrigerated dill pickles

12 pickling cucumbers, 3-4 inches long
2 cups water
1 3/4 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh dill weed, chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 1/2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 sprigs fresh dill weed

      1. Combine cucumbers, water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. For people who like their foods extra spicy, consider doubling the amount of red pepper flakes.
      2. Stir the ingredients together and let them sit at room temperature for two hours. The sugar and salt should dissolve by this point.
      3. Place four cucumbers into three 1 pint wide-mouthed jars and use a ladle to fill the containers with the pickling liquid until the cucumbers have been completely covered.
      4. Seal the jars by screwing on the lids and place them in the refrigerator for at least ten days before eating. Since the jars are not air-tight like they would be during traditional canning, the pickles will need to be eaten within a month.

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