Ready to make homemade Pickling? Just follow our step-by-step how to make Pickles for beginners and you’re good to go! Pickling is a great way to store extra vegetables, not just pickles. You can pickle peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, peaches – many different products! We also have recipes for you to try – enjoy the bounty of your garden for the next few months.
What Is Pickling?
Pickling is used to preserve vegetables or to extend the shelf life of foods by fermenting them in brine or soaking them in vinegar. The acidity of the solution changes the taste and texture of the food while favoring the growth of desirable benign bacteria (Lactobacillus), while also preventing the growth of harmful bacteria such as botulism, which can cause botulism.
Pickles should be made with fresh fresh vegetables and fruits, vinegar, and fresh whole herbs and spices. Wonderful marinated products are the result of high quality ingredients, correct proportions and carefully followed recipes.
You can pickle most vegetables and fruits, including cucumbers, green beans, peppers, okra, beets, carrots, and asparagus.
Two Ways to Pickle: Quick Pickling vs. Water-Bath Pickling
- There are basically two pickling options:
- Quick Pickling: A quick and easy process, quick pickling is as simple as pickling vegetables in a pickling solution and waiting. Quick pickles (also known as “refrigerator pickles”) will keep for weeks to months in the refrigerator. This process works best with pickles that you know you’ll be eating and enjoying in no time as they lose their crunch the longer they sit in the brine.
- Boiling water bath method: In this method, prepared food jars are heated in a boiling water bath for a period of time. Properly processed and properly stored food should be safe for up to a year. After opening, store food in the refrigerator like any other fresh food.
Is Processing Pickles Necessary?
Storing your produce cans at room temperature (in a pantry) requires heat treatment to destroy spoilage-causing microorganisms. Heat treatment also inactivates enzymes that affect the product’s taste, color, and texture during storage.
Get Ready to Pickle!
Whichever method you choose, kimchi should be cooked with fresh, fresh vegetables. Don’t pickle with supermarket waxed cucumbers, as the acid or salt won’t penetrate them properly. Either grow your own cucumbers or go to the farmers market. Seed catalogs are a good source of information on suitable varieties. When it comes to pickles, the classic pickle is Kirby pickle, not English pickle. Persian pickles are great for serving in beer mugs.
Choose only the freshest pickled vegetables that are free of bruises and stains. Use as soon as possible after harvest. Pick cucumbers earlier in the day to avoid bitterness.
When pickling vegetables and fruits, choose equal-sized pieces if possible, and cut them into equal-sized pieces so that the pickles infiltrate the cucumbers evenly. We recommend about 1-1/2 inches for cucumbers and about 4 inches for dill. Use oddly shaped and more mature pickles for bread and butter style dressings and pickles.
How to Clean Produce
Vegetables and fruits to be pickled should be scrubbed thoroughly with a vegetable brush under running water. Soil or soft spots on vegetables may contain bacteria that cause cucumbers to spoil.
Whole cucumbers used for pickling may leave about half an inch of stems and should be discarded. Also, discard 1/16-inch slices from the flowering ends of fresh cucumbers. The flowering ends contain an enzyme that causes cucumbers to over-soften when pickled in brine.
Optional: For crispier pickles, place the vegetables (whole or sliced) in a large non-metal bowl and top with a drizzle of pickling salt. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Discard the liquid that drains from the vegetables, rinse with cold water, and dry the vegetables as usual before pickling or canning. Pickling salt helps draw moisture out of the vegetables, making them crispier and keeping them crispier.
Measure or weigh carefully, as the ratio of fresh vegetables to brine (salt to water) and other ingredients can affect flavor, and often safety.
Which Salt to Use
The salt used for pickling should be pickling salt (also known as canning salt) – a pure granular or rock salt with no added iodine. The iodine in table salt can turn cucumbers black. Regular non-iodized table salt can be used, but it contains a mold release agent that makes the brine cloudy..
Which Vinegar to Use
The acidity of the vinegar must be 5% for pickling. The strength of vinegar is usually listed on the label. The apple cider vinegar makes the pickles fuller and spicier, but also adds some color to the pickles.
If a lighter-colored product is desired, such as pickled pears or onions, distilled white vinegar should be used. Apple cider vinegar has a milder flavor and white vinegar has a stronger flavor, but both are equally good for pickling.
Using the exact amount of vinegar listed in the recipe is critical to the quality and flavor of your pickles. If the brine or curd tastes too spicy, instead of reducing the vinegar, add more sweetener until it tastes just right.
No special equipment is required for quick freezer pickles. You will need a large non-metal bowl and store them in bowls (with lids) or 2 pint jars that have been washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and air-dried.
For Bain & Marie cans, you’ll need to buy a jar designed for home canning, such as a B. Mason jar or a ball jar. Most mason jars come with a two-piece lid—a round metal spiral strap and a removable flat metal lid with rubber-like caulk on the outer edge. Mason jars can be reused as long as they are not chipped, nickel plated or rusted. Screw strips can be reused if they are well cleaned and not rusted. However, a new glass cover must be used every year to ensure a tight seal. Never reuse the cap. To prepare the jars, place them in a large pot of water and bring the water to a boil (180°F). Place glass in hot water until full.
When making kimchi, it is best to use non-metal utensils, as metals can react with the acid or salt used, causing unwanted changes in the color and taste of the kimchi, making it unfit for consumption.
See our guide to water bath jars for other supplies you need.
What Is Headspace?
Headspace is the air space between the top of the food or liquid placed in the jar and the inside of the jar lid. Proper headspace is listed in your recipe and must be maintained for each recipe to ensure a strong lid seal is formed during processing. Usually leave 1/2 inch of headroom for the cucumbers.
“Master” Pickle Recipe for Quick Pickles or Bain Marie Preserves
This is a “master” recipe for a quick pickling or canning Bain & Marie, making a small batch of pickles to fill two pint-sized jars. Both are prepared similarly; it just depends on whether you’re dealing with the jars or putting them in the freezer for a quick pickling.
Ingredients for 2 Pints
- 1-½ lbs cucumbers or other vegetables
1 cup vinegar. Use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar with 5% acidity. Use white vinegar when a lighter color is desired, such as fruit and cauliflower. Think twice before using red wine vinegar as it will turn all your vegetables pink!
- 1-½ tablespoons salt. Use kosher or pickling salt (also known as canning salt). Kosher salt and pickling salt have no additives. Do not use iodized salt, as it will cloud the brine and change the color and texture of vegetables, and may leave a deposit on the bottom of the tank.
- 1 cup water. Note: Do not use hard water as the iron content will cloud the pickling solution and discolor the cucumbers.
- ¼ cup sugar – optional but included in most recipes.
- Optional: 2 teaspoons dill or celery seeds, or a spice like turmeric. The classic is dill seeds. Mustard seeds or peppercorns can also be used. For herbs, try dill, mint, basil, or anything that will overhaul your garden. Always use fresh herbs and spices when canning or pickling, as herbs and spices lose their flavor quickly.
- Optional: some garlic cloves, peeled, sliced or crushed for extra flavor.
- Whether you’re making spears or coins, cut veggies into even sizes and place in two jars or a large bowl for a quick marinade. Pack the veggies tightly into the jars without crushing them, leaving room at the top for the brine and headspace (1/2 inch for the pickles).
- Make pickles by mixing vinegar, water, and salt in a stainless steel pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then pour hot pickles over vegetables and cover, almost filling each jar but leaving 1/2 inch of headroom.
- For quick pickles, pour brine into two pickle jars and let sit on counter until cooled to room temperature, no more than 1 hour. Then cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Wait three days to a week for the flavors to develop and the vegetables will really taste the marinade. Remember, the longer it heals, the better it tastes! You can also reuse the brine for the next batch.
- This is where the quick pickling process ends. For long-term storage of cucumbers, continue with the boiling water bath method below.
- If you plan to process and preserve pickles for extended storage, tap both jars lightly to remove air bubbles, and top with brine as the vegetables set, leaving a 1/2-inch headroom. Using a clean plastic stick or spatula, run gently around the jar between the food and the side of each jar to remove any excess air. After filling, be sure to wipe the rim of the jar clean before putting the lid on to ensure a good seal. Add a new cap that has been washed and dried to remove any residue and screw on the tie.
- Using a jar lifter, place jars in a boiling water pot or double boiler mason jar with a shelf at the bottom. Make sure the boiling water covers 1 to 2 inches of the jar and throughout the process. Put the lid on, and when the water boils again, set the timer to 10 minutes. Turn off heat when finished; wait 10 minutes to remove lid.
- Remove jars with a jar lifter and cool on a towel or wire rack. You may hear a ‘pop’ on the lid of the jar, which means the jar is properly closed.
- Let the jar cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Do not retighten the tape as this may interfere with the sealing process.
- After the jar has cooled completely, check the seal. Unscrew the strap and press lightly on the center of the lid. If you don’t feel any sagging, the jar is properly sealed. If the cap snaps back, it hasn’t sealed yet. Store the jar in the refrigerator and consume within 2 weeks.
- Label and date your jars, and store them in a clean, cool, dark, and dry place, such as a pantry, closet, or basement. Do not store in a warm place!In order for the cucumbers to soften and develop their deliciousness, wait at least 3 weeks before eating them! Keep in mind that kimchi may be ready to eat soon. It’s totally up to you and your taste! Just don’t let them sit for too long or the texture of the veggies may spoil and become springy. Store in the refrigerator after opening.
- Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to a year, as recommended by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- For more information on proper handling, see our complete guide to “Water Bath Tanks”.
- Check out our chart of measuring vegetables and fruits to convert pounds to cups.
>>> See more: the ways to cook sweet potatoes
Now that you know the process, here are some delicious marinating recipes!
Refrigerator Sweet Pickles
As mentioned above, “refrigerator” pickles do not need to be canned or processed. They can be eaten right away, but will taste better after about a week.
Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles
The bread and butter pickles got their name from Omar and Cara Fanning in the 1920s. They’re a delicious combination of sweet and savory, and they’re crunchy and delicious.
Traditional Dill Pickles
The classic dill pickle offers a crispy texture and a strong vinaigrette flavor. The brine contains salt, sweet dill, and often garlic, and pickles are usually juicy and juicy. Great for BBQ parties.
Dilly Green Beans
The name of this pickle refers to the herb in this recipe: dill. Along with spicy paprika and garlic, adzuki beans are great for adding a little spice to any meal and adding something special to any sandwich.
This pickled pepper recipe works great if you only have a few peppers. Just get some white vinegar! You can use any type of pepper.
Summer Squash Pickles
When your neighbor refuses to take more zucchini or zucchini from you, it’s pickling time.
These pickled beets have a nice combination of sweet and sour flavors, which is why they took first place at five different Ozark Empire Fairs.
5 Pickling Problems
There is a problem? We hope not! However, like all cooking, marinating is a learning process. Read this list for possible explanations for poor pickling results.
- Soft or slippery pickles: Insufficient salt or acid in brine; foam not regularly removed during curing; cucumbers not covered in brine; storage temperature too high; improper handling; cucumber rosettes not removed.
- Hollow cucumbers: stunted cucumbers; cucumbers left too long between harvest and pickling; wrong brine strength.
- Dried Cucumbers: Picking and pickling too long; pickle solution too sweet or too thick in vinegar; brine too salty at the start of pickling; cucumbers overcooked or overprocessed.
- Black cucumbers: use ground spices or too much spice; use iodized salt; minerals in water, especially iron; use iron; boiling
- Discolored or faded cucumbers: Cucumbers of poor quality; sunburned or overripe fruit.
Through the instructions and some recipes about pickling that Answer The Question have shared, hopefully you can make this dish yourself at home. Good luck with your cooking.