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An In-Depth Guide To Making Pickles At Home

Photo: Taste of Home

Ready, set, can!

Crunch, tang, garden freshness—that’s what you get when you know how to make homemade pickles. (Already popped open a can? Try these recipes reserved for pickle lovers.) Whether you’re canny at canning, prefer the ease of the refrigerator or don’t want to heat up the stove at all. we’ve rounded up the best methods for making those green goodies you’ll be sneaking downstairs to snack on. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen has rounded up their best behind-the-scenes tips. Read through this guide, then get canning!

Things to Know Before You Start Pickling

Before you get started, there are a few important tips for best-ever pickles. Follow them and be sure not to make any of these common pickling mistakes.

Choose the Right Vinegar

Use white vinegar for a little more sharpness. If you’re going for milder flavor, use cider vinegar. For extra-crunchy pickles, grab 10%-strength vinegar.

Know Your Cucumber

What kind of cucumbers make pickles: Cukes labeled as canning or pickling cucumbers are a shoo-in, but you can use traditional ones, too. It’s best to choose a cucumber with a thicker skin.

Organic vs. conventional: Either works. The key is to buy cucumbers without the shiny wax coating supermarkets use. The wax is edible, but it’ll change the texture of your pickles.

Don’t Use Table Salt

What is canning salt? It’s extra fine and doesn’t contain caking agents or additives like iodine. If you don’t have canning salt on hand (aka pickling salt), Kosher salt works, too.

Sterilize Your Jar

How to sterilize jars: Wash jars and caps in hot, soapy water; rinse thoroughly. Dry bands on a towel. Put jars in a large kettle with enough water to cover by at least 2 in.; boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off heat, but leave the jars in the water until they’re ready to be filled. Place lids in a separate small saucepan and cover them with water; bring water to 180° and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat until ready to use

The Canning Method

two jars of the best pickles recipe with a napkin, fork and bay leavesTaste of Home

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Ingredients

  • 9 cups sliced pickling cucumbers
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed

Equipment

Step 1: Soak the cucumbers

In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Cover with crushed ice and mix well. Let stand 3 hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly.

Step 2: Prepare the vinegar and cucumber mixture

In a Dutch oven, combine sugar, water, vinegars, mustard seed, celery seed and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cucumber mixture; return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 4-5 minutes or until heated through.

Step 3: Fill the jars

Carefully ladle hot mixture into four hot wide-mouth 1-pint jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Add three garlic cloves and one bay leaf to each jar. Remove air bubbles and if necessary, adjust headspace by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.

Step 3: Can, can, can!

Place jars into a steam canner with simmering water. Bring to a boil; process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

If you don’t have a steam canner, no worries! Simply add the jars to your canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water, and process for 10 minutes.

Test kitchen tip: Keep in mind that processing time depends on the size of the jar. Most recipes call for either 10 or 15 minutes. The bigger the jar, the longer the processing time.

The Refrigerator Method

Taste of Home

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Ingredients

  • 14 pickling cucumbers
  • 40 fresh dill sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed pickling spices

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Dutch oven
  • Jars

Step 1: Prep the pickles

Cut each cucumber lengthwise into six spears. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, dill and garlic; set aside.

Step 2: Heat up the mixture and pour over cucumbers

In a Dutch oven, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook and stir just until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture; cool.

Step 3: Refrigerate

Transfer to jars if desired and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

The No-Cook Method

Sliced homemade freezer pickles.

Ingredients

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  • 4 lbs. pickling cucumbers, sliced
  • 8 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar

Equipment

  • 10 2-cup plastic containers and lids
  • 2 Large bowls

Step 1: Sterilize containers and start prep work

Rinse ten 2-cup plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly. Divide cucumbers, onions, salt and water between two large bowls. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Do not drain.

Step 2: Mix in sugar and vinegar, and freeze

Add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup vinegar to each bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to prepared containers, leaving 1-in. headspace for expansion; freeze up to 6 months.

Step 3: Thaw before eating

Thaw pickles in refrigerator 8 hours before using. Serve within 2 weeks after thawing.

Ready to take on another challenge? Try our best pickled recipes.

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Article by Taste of Home. View the original article here.