Pickling is a great way to preserve in-season, farmer’s market vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, beets, onions tomatoes and cauliflower. Yummy, crunchy and with endless flavor variations, pickling can be tons of fun too! We want to demystify the process, since it’s actually quite easy. We guarantee that your friends will be very impressed if you bring a jar of homemade pickles as a hostess gift. Get your Pickling Game on!
Pickling Do’s & Don’ts
-DO invest in a canning kit that includes jar tongs and a wide funnel to make the process easier. We like this one from Ball ($10)
-DON’T cut corners. The jar and lid sterilization process is vital as well as the amount of vinegar used in order to get the perfect, crunchy pickle you desire.
-DO use pickling salt, not table salt. Table salt contains iodine, a chemical that can cause your pickles to turn dark, and anticaking ingredients can also make the brine cloudy.
-DON’T use salad cucumbers, use fresh pickling cucumbers. Ideally you would use cucumbers straight from your garden or the farmer’s market. Make sure to wash and scrub them with a vegetable brush to remove any wax, dirt or sand granules (which can interfere with the pickling process).
-DO use FRESH spices, whole, crushed or ground. Try not to use spices that have been in your cabinet for more than a year, as they do have a shelf life and lose their flavor profile with time. Play with flavors and ingredients like bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, chili peppers, dill seeds, allspice, whole cloves, garlic, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, whole peppercorns or horseradish. The combinations are endless!
-DO wait at least one week to enjoy your pickles! It takes about that long for the flavors to be absorbed.
Sweet & Spicy Pickles
3 Pounds Pickling Cucumbers (we like Kirby Cucumbers), sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
2 C. Sliced Onions
½ C. Pickling Salt
6 C. Water
3 C. White Vinegar
1 ½ C. Apple Cider Vinegar
3 ½ C. Sugar
2 tbs Yellow Mustard Seeds
1 Cinnamon Stick
½ tsp Turmeric
4 Whole Cloves
10 cloves Garlic, sliced
1 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
Place cucumbers, onions, pickling salt, and water in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cover and allow cucumbers to soak for 2 hours. Drain the water from the onions and cucumbers through a colander and rinse well for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Combine the vinegars, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves, garlic, and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a simmer and remove the saucepan from the heat.
Fill each of the hot sterilized pint-size preserving jars with the pickle mixture using a wide funnel. With a clean, damp towel, wipe the rim and fit with a hot lid. Screw on the metal ring and process the jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.
Using jar tongs, remove the jars, place on a towel, and let cool. Test the seals by allowing them to rest at room temperature overnight or until the lids pop. Store in a cool, dry place for approximately 2 weeks before you enjoy!
Pro Tip for extra crunch! Add a fresh and clean grape leaf to the bottom of your pickle jar!
Use your homemade pickles and chop them up small and use in deviled egg filling. YUM!