If you are the kind who thoughtlessly mouths through a jar of pickles or can not understand the idea of a hamburger without one, you may not realize how quick and easy it is to make your own pickles at home and create a range that can hold you through the next barbecue season, or keep them easy to grab for daily nibbling.
Step 1 – Choose your cucumbers
The first thing to know about pickles is that they are a pickled cucumber. Although it seems basic, the pickling process changes the taste of the vegetable so that people sometimes do not realize it. The good news is that if you know someone who owns a garden or grows one yourself, you probably have a great selection of cucumbers at your disposal. Usually during the cucumber season, gardeners are desperate to split their harvest.
Kirby cucumbers are the classic option for dill pipes because they stick to their crunchy appeal while English cucumbers come out a little softer. Persian cucumbers, with their thinner skin, are another good option.
Another important note about cucumber selection ̵
Step 2 – Prepare your cucumbers
Always wash products before preservation to remove dirt and chemicals. Cut off any bruises or stains. Actually, you can not go wrong with your choice of whole cukes, spears or sliced coins as long as you keep the dimension fairly consistent. Shape and size depend on personal preference and intended use.
Step 3 – Choose your flavors
During the pickling process, your cucumbers can have a variety of flavor profiles depending on what you mix in. For dill pipes, of course, you need dill, but typically the seasoning comes from dill seeds rather than fresh dill leaves. From there, it’s the retailer’s choice of which flavors to experiment with. Try some garlic, red pepper flakes, black or colored peppercorns, mustard seeds or celery seeds. For sweet pickles, you can also add ¼-cup of sugar. Many people also like to mix in peppers and onions.
Step 4 – Make brine
You will be amazed at how easy brining is. Simply mix equal parts water with cider vinegar, rice vinegar or white wine vinegar. Each vinegar gives its own characteristics to the table. Cider vinegar is traditional and gives it the most flavor, but it also darkens pickles. White vinegar gives a sharper taste with less color. Whichever vinegar you decide on, make sure it has an acidity of 5% or higher.
Then add pickling salt aka preservative salt. For reference, one and a half kilos of cucumbers will require a cup of vinegar, a cup of water and one and a half tablespoons of salt. Put these three ingredients together with your choice of spices and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil before adding the cucumbers. Make more or less saline to suit the amount of pickles you want to make. Note that salting is a process so that this exact technique can be used for any other vegetables you want to pick, such as beets, carrots, cauliflower or red onions.
Step 5 – Choose your process
Pickles are ready to eat after a few days in brine, but the taste continues to improve as they marinate. The good news is that you can keep your pickles in the brine in a non-metal container refrigerated for several weeks and use them as you wish. You can also reuse your brine for the next batch.
To make your pickles shelf stable, pack them in jars with the hot brine and leave ½-inch space at the top. Avoid using metal utensils during preservation. Seal each jar tightly and process the jar in a hot water bath for five minutes. Processing pickles can make them a little softer because it boils them. For the crispiest pickles, keep them fresh, but note processed pickles provide an easy grip solution when your fresh delivery is low.
Step 6 – Store your pickles
If you have processed your pickles, choose a cool, dark, dry place for storage. Avoid excessive heat. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you use your homemade pickles within a year of preservation. Cool pickles after opening the jar.
For fresh pickles, cover the bowl or place the pickles in jars and keep the fridge at all times. Used within three weeks.