I absolutely LOVE pickles, and could seriously eat them all day long. There’s just something about that salty, tangy, slightly sweet taste from a whole dill pickle, and my favorites were always the ones at the state fairs.
It never crossed my mind that I could easily make them at home, because for some reason I believed there was a long drawn out process to pickling, and it was just something I wouldn’t be able to do.
After I started going more natural, I was taking a much closer look at the ingredients in the food I was buying at the grocery store, and to my surprise, most of my favorite pickle brands had high fructose corn syrup in them.
I swear, HFCS is in almost every food item that is canned, boxed, bagged, or processed, and it’s nearly impossible to get around it unless you just start making your own food at home.
So that’s just what I did…and you know what? Pickles, or pickling in general, is pretty dang easy to do at home, and ever since I learned how to do it myself, I’ve never looked back…or bought any pickles from the store.
There are just a few things to learn before making the perfect pickle at home, and one of the most important things is making sure you have the right type of cucumber.
Picking The Right Cucumber
I’ve heard stories from people who have tried making their own pickles at home without success, and I think it may have been caused by not having the right cucumber. Without the right cucumber, your pickles will never turn out like pickles, so it’s very important that you start with the proper ingredients.
Back in the day I was under the impression that the cucumbers sold in the grocery store were the ones that pickles were made of, but boy was I wrong. The most common cucumber we see in stores are garden cucumbers, or slicing cucumbers. They go by different names, but they’re usually dark green in color and long in length. While these cucumbers can still be pickled, they won’t have that distinct dill pickle flavor.
The types of cucumbers you want to look for are short and thick ones, usually with a lighter green skin, and full of bumps. You also want to ensure that you get organic cucumbers, or ones from a local farmer’s market.
The reason for this is because grocery store cucumbers are coated with a wax to make them shiny and help protect them, but that wax doesn’t wash off, and it will prevent your cucumbers from pickling properly. Look for cucumbers that have a dull, matte finish to their skin, which means they won’t have any wax coating and will pickle easily.
Here are some pickling cucumber varieties to look for:
- Northern Pickling
- Homemade Pickles
- County Fair
- Pickle Bush
You should be able to find a good pickling cucumber at your local farmer’s market, or any health food specialty store. You can also grow these in your garden if you have one.
- 2 pounds of pickling cucumbers
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 6 teaspoons pickling salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Several sprigs of fresh dill
- 2-3 quart-sized Mason Jars
- Clean and sanitize your Mason Jars and lids with boiling water. Set off to the side to cool.
- Add an equal amount of black peppercorns, mustard seed, dill seed, celery seed, garlic, and fresh dill to each Mason Jar.
- Cut your cucumbers in half or quarters, and pack tightly into each jar. Cucumbers should be standing straight up and down.
- In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Bring down to a simmer and add the vinegar and salt, then bring back up to a boil for about a minute.
- Remove the brine off the stove and pour directly over cucumbers in jars, making sure they are fully covered with brine.
- Place the lids on the jars and seal them closed. Let the jars cool down, then place them in the fridge.
- Pickles should be ready within hours, but it's best to leave them in for 24-48 hours. The longer they sit, the better.
Have you made your own dill pickles at home? What is your favorite recipe?