Making pickles at home is a fun and rewarding way to preserve vegetables and add a tangy, flavorful condiment to your meals. Here’s a basic recipe for making homemade pickles:
For the Brine:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white vinegar 5% acidity
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt or pickling salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional, for a slightly sweeter pickle
For the Pickles:
- 1-2 pounds of cucumbers pickling cucumbers work best
- 2-4 cloves garlic peeled and crushed, optional
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh dill or 1-2 teaspoons of dill seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns optional
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional, for a bit of heat
- Quart-sized canning jars with lids and bands
- Large pot for boiling water
- Funnel optional
- Canning rack optional
Prepare the Cucumbers:
Wash and scrub the cucumbers to remove any dirt or debris.
Trim off the ends of the cucumbers.
You can choose to leave the cucumbers whole, slice them into spears, or cut them into rounds, depending on your preference.
Prepare the Brine:
In a large saucepan, combine the water, white vinegar, kosher salt, and sugar (if using). Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Once it boils, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Prepare the Jars:
Sterilize your canning jars and lids by placing them in a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. You can use a canning rack or simply place a kitchen towel at the bottom of the pot to prevent the jars from touching the hot surface.
Pack the Jars:
In each sterilized jar, place a sprig of fresh dill, crushed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and red pepper flakes (if using).
Pack the prepared cucumbers into the jars as tightly as possible without damaging them.
Add the Brine:
Using a funnel (if you have one), completely pour the cooled brine into the jars, covering the cucumbers. Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
Seal the Jars:
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Place the sterilized lids on top of the jars and secure them with the bands, ensuring they are not too tight.
Process the Jars (Optional):
If you want your pickles to be shelf-stable and last for an extended period, you can process the jars in a boiling water bath. Submerge the jars in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Ensure they are fully covered with water.
Cool and Store:
Allow the jars to cool at room temperature. As they cool, you may hear a popping sound, indicating that the jars are sealing properly.
Once cool, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each lid. If it doesn't pop back, the jar is sealed. If it does pop back, store that jar in the refrigerator and consume it within a few weeks.
Wait for the Flavor to Develop:
Homemade pickles improve in flavor over time. For the best taste, let them sit in a cool, dark place for at least a week before opening and eating them. If properly sealed, they can last in your pantry for up to a year.