The pickling process is very easy, and the results are delicious! It’s fun to experiment with different kinds of veggies and seasonings. Some think pickles save money, but buying them at the store can be cheaper. Not always, though! If you’re interested in saving (some) money or trying something new, this is perfect recipe!
The first step to making the perfect pickle is understanding what it is. Pickling is a way to preserve vegetables without canning; it’s an age-old method of making food last longer and often makes even store-bought produce taste fresher. The acidity in vinegar causes some chemical changes in the food that discourage bacteria growth, so you’re left with a delicious snack—or side dish—that will keep for months (or years).
Step 1: Choose the vegetable(s) you want to pickle
Before attempting to make pickles, you’ll want to choose the vegetable(s) that you want to pickle.
First, make sure they’re fresh! Pickling is an excellent way to preserve and enhance your favorite fruits and vegetables. However, if they’re not fresh enough or past their prime, the pickles will likely be flavorless—and that just won’t do.
Step 2: Sterilize your jars
To sterilize the jars, you can boil them for 10 minutes or toss them in a hot oven for ten minutes. Sterilization is essential to prevent spoilage.
Sometimes I have time to do this, and sometimes I don’t. If I’m doing pickled cucumbers or sauerkraut, I’ll use a jar of plain water with 1 tsp of salt per quart of water and let it sit overnight (the added salt will help preserve the vegetables). Then drain all but an inch at the top, fill with veggies and their liquid (this will ensure that your veggies stay submerged), and seal tightly using either metal lids or screw-on plastic lids. Keeps in the fridge for up to 2 months!
Step 3: Pack the jar with vegetables and add any seasonings you want
Pack the jar with vegetables and add any herbs that you might want. Pack the jar tightly, but not too tightly, and make sure there are no air bubbles.
Add the seasonings. This is your chance to get creative with flavors! If a recipe calls for adding dill seeds or whole mustard seeds, do so now. Be careful not to over-fill the jars; if necessary, make another batch of brine or use less seasoning than called for in your recipe.
Seal and store as directed by your recipe until ready to eat (the longer you wait before eating them, the stronger their flavor will become).
Step 4: Add the brine mixture
Add the brine mixture (1 cup white vinegar and two tablespoons of salt) to cover the vegetables by 1 inch.
The jar should be filled with enough brine to cover all of your vegetables, but not so much that there’s a lot of air space between them and their brine. If you don’t have any measuring cups on hand, use a clean measuring spoon or small ladle as a substitute if you don’t have any measuring cups on hand. The easiest way to do this is to add an equal amount of water and vinegar (1:1 ratio) to your mixing bowl, then pour half into each jar—and voilà! You’re ready for pickling!
Step 5: Seal the jars and let them sit
Once your pickles are ready to eat, remove them from the jar and store them in an airtight container. Pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
For a crunchier pickle, use smaller jars and process them for 25 minutes instead of 20.
Whatever vegetable you use, they will be ready within two weeks
These two weeks are the most important. If you wait too long, they will go bad, but if you don’t let them sit long enough, they taste bitter. The best time to eat them is when they have a crunchy texture and are not soggy!
When picking out which vegetable to use in your pickles, choose one with plenty of flavors so it can carry through even after pickling!
There are many different styles of pickles, but they all have one thing in common: they’re delicious. If you need some more food tips and tricks, check out our other food-related articles!