Ever had homemade pickles? Aren’t they way superior to store bought? I think so! I started making my own pickles a few years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. The great thing about it, is you can pretty much pickle anything. If you have a garden that is starting too brim with fresh veggies, take advantage of the abundance and do some pickling!
Here is the most very basic brine recipe. You can add anything to it you like to season it or flavour it in different ways or leave it just as is.
Click on the full post for the complete recipe and instructions to make your own pickled mini cucumbers. Alternatives and additions are listed at the end of the post to give you some ideas!
4 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1/3 + 1 Tbsp pickling salt
6 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
Before we begin. Pickling salt is not the same as regular table salt. Pickling salt doesn’t have any additives like iodine in it, which would turn your pickles darker and the brine murky. So pickling salt is ideal. Don’t worry, if you think you won’t be pickling often enough to use up a whole bag, you can always use pickling salt as you would table salt. Just not the other way around.
I found this bag at a regular grocery store, right by the jars of spices. It was way down on the bottom shelf.
1. Wash and dry your pickles. If you find the skin a bit waxy feeling (mine were), you can use a touch of dish soap when washing them. Just rinse well.
2. Cut your pickles however you like. I decided to half these ones. If you have a mandolin, you could easily make long slices. Or if you prefer, you can leave them whole.
3. Wash your jars well. I used Mason jars with the pop top type lids.
4. In a large pot of boiling water, sterilize your lids and jars. Use tongs to get them in and out of the water. Be very careful not to burn yourself when taking them out.
Alternatively, you can sterilize your jars in the oven (lids off) at 250F for 20 minutes.
5. In a medium saucepan, add water, vinegar, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil (uncovered) until salt is completely dissolved. Turn heat down to medium / low until you are ready to use it. It needs to stay hot.
6. Fill the jars. I find it easiest to lay the jars on their sides.
Don’t be afraid to really pack the jars full!
7. Poor the brine into the jars, filling to the top. Screw the lid on tight and set aside. As they cool, the pop top lid will seal and you may here a ‘pop’ when it does. I usually leave them on the counter overnight to cool completely. Can be eaten as soon as the following day, but I like to give them a few days to really get that pickle magic doing it’s thing!
Sealed jars will last a couple months either in a cool cellar or the fridge. Once opened, they should be kept in the refrigerator.
Variations for the brine (not just for cucumbers);
- Do half white vinegar, half cider vinegar for a different taste (yum!)
- Add bunches of fresh dill into the jars when filling them up
- Use chili peppers, fresh or flakes to add zip to your pickles
- Pepper corns, celery seed, allspice and mustard seed are all classic additions
- Cinnamon sticks and or whole cloves. I know right?
- You can add white sugar if you want to make the brine sweet
Other things that can be pickled;
Asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, onion, peppers, beets, radishes, cabbage, celery, green tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, okra, mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, olives, brussel sprouts, green beans, garlic, ginger…. the list goes on.
That’s pickling 101. Class dismissed!