How to Make Pickles

Cyd Converse

Wondering how to make pickles? We’ve got the details!

If you’re wondering how to make pickles, chances are you know the secret of where pickles come from.

For everyone else…guess what? Pickles are cucumbers that have been soaked in a vinegar brine with pickling spices.

Brined Pickles Photo

Is your mind blown?

It’s okay. You’re not alone.

It’s happened to many of us who weren’t born with this information.

Let’s go over what you need to know so you can make pickles for your sandwiches or to enjoy as a snack.

Brined Pickles Picture

Which Cucumbers to Use for Pickles

Kirby cucumbers are best for pickling because of their thick skin. They’ll remain crunchy on the outside after soaking in the vinegar and spices.

You also could use Persian cucumbers, which have a thinner skin. Avoid using English cucumbers, which will become too soft during pickling.

Just be sure to use firm, ripe, unwaxed cucumbers.

Fried Pickles Image

How to Make Pickles

If making canned pickles that will keep for up to a year, you will need to use hot, sterilized jars. For quick pickles, you can just wash the jars.

Rinse your cucumbers. Cut away and discard the stem, the blossom end and any bruised sections.

Add the cucumbers to a jar, along with pickling spices. You can use dill seeds, ground mustard, pepper, garlic, or the seasonings of your choice. Use hot pepper flakes for spicy pickles.

Make your brine by boiling vinegar with pickling salt (or kosher salt). You can use any type of vinegar to make pickles, but white vinegar is the best choice for preserving the green color of your cucumbers. Other vinegars (cider, red wine, etc.) will alter the color of the vegetables.

Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers in the jar, leaving a ½-inch space at the top. Cover with a lid.

If you are canning the pickles, process the jar in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes.

Pickled Red Onions Picture

How Long does it Take to Turn a Cucumber into a Pickle?

Traditional, canned pickles need time to ferment. After processing, let the jar stand for one week before opening it.

The canned pickles will be shelf stable for one year but need to be refrigerated once opened. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for several weeks afterward.

If you’re skipping the canning process and making quick pickles, refrigerate the jar of cucumbers and brine. The pickles will be ready to eat in two hours but must be consumed within two weeks. Keep them refrigerated during that time.

Pickled Banana Peppers Photo

How to Make Dill Pickles

You need dill seed to make dill pickles. Add the seeds to the jar with your other pickling spices before adding the brine.

Pickled Banana Peppers Pic

How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles

Make bread and butter pickles with sliced cucumbers and onions. Add them to a colander with salt and let them sit for three hours, then drain the liquid that forms.

Add sugar to the vinegar brine for a sweet-and-sour effect. Use mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric for the pickling spices, which will produce a yellow color.

Fried Pickles Picture

Pickled Vegetables

You can use the pickling process on more than just cucumbers! Try pickled onions, pickled banana peppers, or candied jalapeños.

Have fun!

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Cyd is a native of Upstate New York, born to a family of women who love to cook and host parties. She shares her love of all things food, home and entertaining on her blog, The Sweetest Occasion and on Instagram.

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