I’ve Been Forced to Make My Own Pickles and They’re Delicious!
After finding out how easy it is to make delicious homemade pickles, I may never go back to buying them from the store.
You may not know this, but I'm a pickle fanatic. I can't even fathom eating a deli sandwich or hamburger without a crisp, cold pickle on my plate. But it can't be any old pickle. Those mass-produced jars at the supermarket just won't do. I've actually traveled longer distances than I wish to admit just to get pickles from some of my favorite pickle makers.
Sadly, during the coronavirus stay-at-home order, it's been difficult to remain stocked up on good pickles. After suffering through a jar of brand name spears I was forced to get from the grocery store, I decided to investigate how to make my own. It turns out that making pickles is actually super easy, and the results are better than I could have ever imagined.
So if you've found yourself without those gourmet pickles you've been craving, I'm happy to share my pickle making secret. After some tweaks, I think I've finally dialed into a recipe that I'm happy with. The good news is that you can play around with the ratios yourself depending on what flavors you're looking for in your pickles.
- 6 cups of water
- 3 cups of white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon of sugar
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- a few sprigs of fresh dill
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- 6-8 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers
- 2 empty plastic quart containers
First of all, it's important that you buy the correct kind of cucumbers. Kirby cucumbers are smaller than your usual salad cukes and, most importantly, don't come with a layer of that protective wax on it. If you use regular cucumbers you'll just wind up with a soggy pickle.
Once you have the right ingredients, the first thing you need to do is bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. This will be your pickle brine. Make sure all of the salt and sugar are dissolved before taking the brine off the stove and letting it cool to room temperature. You can adjust the vinegar to water ratio depending on how strong you want your pickles. More sugar will also give you a sweeter pickle taste.
Next, take your cucumbers and chop off the ends so they're the same height as your container. Even if they already fit, chop the ends anyway. You'll get a crunchier and happier pickle that way. Once the ends are off you can leave the pickles whole, but I prefer to slice them into spears. That way they'll be ready to eat much quicker and will absorb more flavor from the brine.
Place a sprig of dill, one or two slightly smashed garlic cloves and a few peppercorns in each container. Some people add more or less garlic depending on taste. Many recipes also call for red pepper flakes. They supposedly add a little bit of heat, but I haven't tried them.
Once your own combination of spices is in the containers, pack them with your cucumber spears. Squeeze them in as tightly as you can until they completely fill the containers. They will eventually shrink a little, so don't worry about packing them in too close together as long as you're not squishing and damaging them.
Next, take your cooled-down brine and pour it over the pickles until they're completely submerged. You can gently bang the containers on the counter to get out any bubbles that may be trapped under the cucumbers. Fill the brine all the way to the top and seal up the containers. I "burp" the containers, letting some brine flow out of the side to make sure there is as little air inside as possible.
After that comes the hard part; waiting.
Leave your pickles alone in the refrigerator for at least a week before you try them. They will actually start to taste like pickles after a few days but will be strong with vinegar and too firm to really enjoy. After a week the flavors will really start to come through and the vinegar will smooth out. The flavor only gets better the longer they are in the fridge.
The nice thing about these cold pickles is that you don't need to boil jars or worry about bacteria. Since they're kept in the fridge, these cold pickles are perfectly safe to make without worrying about growing strange things inside them. From what I've heard, your homemade cold pickles can last up to three months, but I don't imagine ever having them around that long before eating them all up.
If you decide to make your own pickles, I'd love to hear how they came out. Send me a picture and any tweaks you made to the recipe so we can compare notes. Just promise that when people tell you how incredible your homemade pickles taste you won't tell them just how easy they were to make.
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