Pickling can be intimidating, but even if you have no experience, it’s really quite simple. This recipe is a great place to start for classic cucumber pickles.
Brine your cucumbers before pickling them, which ensures they’ll stay crunchy, and add some calcium chloride to add even more snap to each bite.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can experiment with the length of pickling, the amount of vinegar and dill you add, and toy with adding extra ingredients – like garlic and chilies.
No matter what, you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a better (and more fun) pickle than the store-bought version.
- 4 pounds pickling cucumbers (3 to 5 inches each)
- 1 gallon plus 1 quart water
- 10 tablespoons salt for pickling and preserving
- 3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- 12 dill sprigs
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- calcium chloride (optional)
- 1 Rinse the cucumbers under cold running water and trim any that are longer than 5 inches so that they’ll fit comfortably in a mason jar. Cut each cucumber lengthwise into quarters. Place the spears in a large, clean container (such as a 12- to 18-quart food-safe plastic pail or basin). Combine 1 gallon of the water and 6 tablespoons of the salt in a large pitcher, stirring until the salt dissolves. Pour over the cucumbers; cover and let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Drain; rinse under cold running water, and drain.
- 2 Combine remaining 1 quart water, vinegar, sugar, pickling spice and remaining 1⁄4 cup salt in a stainless-steel or enameled saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve.
- 3 Place 2 of the dill sprigs and 1 teaspoon of the mustard seeds into a hot jar and pack tightly with the cucumber spears. Ladle the hot pickling liquid over the spears, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Add 1⁄8 teaspoon calcium chloride to jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply the band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place the jar in the boiling water canner. Repeat until all the jars are filled.
- 4 Process the jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove the lid, and let the jars stand 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool.