Making pickles is fun and easy. There are many basic salt brine recipes that can be used to produce great tasting pickles in your home in just a few days’ time. Although most recipes call for the canning of the cucumbers there are some basic salt brine pickle recipes that can be followed which do not involve canning. These pickles, often referred to as “refrigerator pickles” will then need to be refrigerated as they lack preservatives.
Pickles made in salt brine are called brined pickles and were made long before vinegar was used. Vinegar’s main purpose is to speed the fermentation process, and is not necessarily required to make pickles. Many people choose not to use it when making pickles at home, as the process can still make delicious, crispy pickles.
A more involved basic recipe involves canning the pickles in order to preserve them for a longer period of time. Below the process for both types of pickles is described. Although these are basic recipes involving minimal ingredients, you can experiment with your own spices and ingredients to suit your taste.
Basic Pickling Recipe with no canning required (This recipe calls for only 4 cucumbers. You can adjust it to make the recipe larger or smaller as needed.)
In less than a week and with nothing more than water and salt, you can cure a deli-worthy pickle. Because there are only three ingredients, each should be of the highest quality. The water should be pure and without chlorine. If your tap water is chlorinated, leave a quart on the counter overnight, uncovered, and the chlorine will dissipate. Bottled water also works well. In choosing your salt, be sure to use either kosher, fine sea or pickling salt. These salts dissolve quickly, ensuring even distribution in the brine. Do not use iodized salt as it can make the brine cloudy. Finally, choose the proper cucumbers to use. Not all cucumbers can be used for pickles. One of the challenges when it comes to this recipe is how to make the pickles crispy. The first thing you should do is to make sure you are using cucumbers that are labeled pickling cucumbers. You can also use Kirbys or another dense cucumber with a bumpy, thin skin and few seeds. They should be fresh, not over ripe, and feel substantial and plump. Do not use the long, slim salad cucumbers or any waxed cucumbers with a thick green skin. These are best left for cucumber salad or cucumber sandwiches.
Once you have carefully chosen your ingredients, you are ready to make pickles!
First, bring 3 quarts of water to a full boil in a pot.
Next, wash the 4 pickling cucumbers and cut them first in half long ways, then each half again long ways so you will have four spears. Place them in a jar.
Then, add the 6 tsp. salt (kosher, sea or pickling) and pickling spices (optional) into the boiling water, stirring it thoroughly until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour the salt water mixture over the cucumbers in the jar so that they are completely covered. Make sure they stay completely covered to prevent mold growth. Twist on the lid loosely so that air can still flow freely in and out. Over-tightening of the lid may cause bacteria to form.
Last, place the jar in a warm place that is out of direct sunlight and where you can keep an eye on it. It needs to sit for at least two days. Once in the brine, the transformation begins. Look for rising bubbles, even a little froth, within the first 24 hours. The brine may also become cloudy. After the second day, test the pickles by eating one. If they are to your liking, place them in the fridge or else leave them out one more day. While the pickles are practically perfect plain, dill and garlic can be added for additional flavor. These pickles are a source of healthy probiotic microbes, which occur by the natural fermentation in brine.
Salt brine pickles with vinegar (no canning required)
This basic pickles recipe, while similar to the first, uses vinegar. Vinegar adds flavor and also serves as a preservative. However, pickles produced using vinegar are not probiotic. The type of vinegar you choose is a matter of personal preference. White distilled vinegar has a mellow aroma, tart acid flavor, and will not affect the color of the pickles. Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apple juice is a popular choice for many pickles. It has a mellow, fruity flavor that blends well with many spices. However, it may darken the pickles slightly.
There is also apple cider-flavored distilled vinegar. It has the flavor and brown color of apple cider vinegar, but it is a mixture of apple cider flavoring and distilled vinegar.
While any of these vinegars may be used you should be sure that it has 5% acidic acid for best results.
For this recipe you will need:
4 lbs pickling cucumbers
2 3/4 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1/4 C sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt (make sure it’s not iodized, because that can make the pickle juice cloudy!)
Boil your jars and lids in order to sterilize them.
Wash and slice cucumbers lengthwise into spears. Add the cucumbers to the sterilized jars.
Boil water and vinegar in a pot then dissolve the salt into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cucumber spears and cover with the lid of the jar. Let the jar sit on the counter for 2-3 days turning them occasionally. After 3 days on the counter put the jar in the refrigerator. Once again, this recipe is for a basic pickle. You can experiment with various spices including dill, garlic or packaged pickling spices. You can also make your own pickling spices and store for use at a later time.
The following pickles recipes involve the process of canning
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are hermetically sealed for future use. This preservation method allows pickles to be stored for a much longer period of time than basic pickling does. The prepared food is put in glass jars or metal cans which are then hermetically sealed to keep out air and then heated to a specific temperature for a specified time to destroy disease-causing microorganisms and prevent spoilage. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years.
Canning does require some basic canning supplies. The supplies you need will vary depending on the types of foods you are canning. For canning pickles and other high acid foods you will need a water bath canner. 21-quarts is the most common size, but you can also find larger versions. If you decide to buy one second-hand, make sure it still has its lid, and preferable its rack. You will also need glass jars with lids and rings. Purchase the top selling canners at the best price here.
Of all the canning projects, making pickles is probably the simplest. This can be a great project for any pickle lover and can be done with kids. Just be careful around the hot water.
Below is a basic recipe for canning dill pickles. Just about anything can be canned! Be sure to check out the other recipes throughout the site and feel free to send in your own recipes for inclusion in the site!
Canning Dill Pickles (makes 4 pint jars of pickles.)
You will need 4 glass pint jars with lids, ¼ cup pickling salt, approximately 20-24 pickling cucumbers, fresh dill, peeled garlic cloves, 2 ½ cups water, 2 ½ cups white vinegar.
The day before you plan to can you should wash the cucumbers thoroughly and be sure they are firm. Dry them and refrigerate them overnight.
Once you are ready to begin canning the first thing to do is sterilize the jars and lids by placing them into warm water in a large pot or water canner. Allow the water to boil. Boil your jars and lids for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove them with oven mitts and tongs.
Place your 4 pint jars on the counter to cool. Add 3 peeled garlic cloves and 1 head of fresh dill to each jar. Optional spices: Some people add 1/2 tsp. of whole peppercorns and 1 tsp of mustard seeds to each jar. You might also include 1 tsp of onion powder or some chopped fresh onions. For spicier pickles, add half a hot pepper or 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes to each jar.
Pack as many whole cucumbers or cucumber sections into the pint jars as you can (usually 5-6 cucumbers per jar). You should aim to try and fill it up to the top.
Next, make your brine. Begin by placing 2 ½ cups of white vinegar, 2 ½ cups of water and 1/4 cup of pickling salt in a saucepan. Heat until the boiling point and then remove from heat immediately.
Pour the pickling brine over your pickles and into the pint jars. Leave about 1/2 inch of space from the top of your lid.
Place your lids and rings on your pint jars. Then place them in your boiling canning bath. Set the time for 5-10 minutes and take them out when it goes off. Do not leave them in the bath for much longer than 5-10 minutes, or they will lose crunchiness. After boiling, remove the jars and wipe them with a clean towel. Let them cool for a day or so before placing them in your pantry.
Place the jars in a cool place, such as your pantry, For best results, wait at least 1 week before serving, to allow the pickles to absorb the seasoning.. Once the sealed jars are opened, store them in the refrigerator.
Just about anything can be pickled and canned! Check out these other recipes and ideas!