I am so excited that we get to make pickles together today! In this recipe we will make delicious, crunchy pickles in a flavorful sea salt brine. I will show you 2 ways to preserve your pickles: refrigeration and canning them with a water bath.
Pickle-making has been on my brain for months now. This morning my husband brought up our first harvest of snacking cucumbers (the short, fat guys) from the hydroponic garden we built in the garage (it’s a jungle down there). What excitement! Pickle-time is finally here.
Pickle flavoring allows you to exercise your creativity. In this recipe I will give you guidelines for how to flavor your pickles – feel free to toss my flavors out the window and choose your own! I like to use a mixture of fresh and dried herbs, garlic and freshly-crushed spices. You could also add red pepper flakes or cherry peppers to your pickles for some heat. If you add sugar to your brine you’ll get a sweet bread-and-butter style of pickle. There are many, many possibilities – think outside the box!
The most important ingredient in pickle-making is salt. You must use salt that is non-iodized and free of anti-caking agents. You can use pickling salt, kosher salt or fine-grain sea salt.I do not recommend using coarse sea salt that comes in large chunks, as it does not dissolve easily in brine.
The two preservation methods we’ll be covering today are refrigeration and canning with a water bath. Foregoing the water bath will give you very crunchy, green pickles that make a satisfying snap. Refrigerator pickles will not keep for more than 2 weeks and must be eaten fairly quickly. Pickles canned in a water bath will last up to one year in your pantry. They will lose some of their green color and they will have more flexibility than your refrigerator pickles. Canned pickles are still extremely delicious and nutritious. I like to can all but one jar of pickles in my water bath canner. The last jar gets preserved in the refrigerator.
Let’s get cooking! You’ll need:
- 8 – 10 snacking or pickling cucumbers, trimmed of flowers and stems
- 1/6 cup + 1 T sea salt (iodine and anti-caking agent free)
- 6 cups water
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 heaping tsp whole peppercorns (any color)
- 3/4 heaping tsp whole mustard seeds
- 3/4 heaping tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1/2 heaping tsp whole celery seed
- fresh and dried herbs: I used –
- 2 tsp dried dill, crushed
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon balm
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon thyme
- (optional) red pepper flakes or cherry peppers for spice
- (2 – 3) 1/2 gallon mason jars with lids
- spice grinder (or) mallet (or) rolling pin
Wash your cucmbers in cold water and dry them. This will keep them crisp. Fill your mason jars with 3 to 4 cucumbers each, stems pointing up.
Combine your water and salt and stir vigorously until the salt is dissolved. If your salt is not fully dissolving heat the mixture slowly over medium low heat until fully combined.
Time to crush those spices. Why do we prefer whole spices to pre-ground spices? Freshly dried, whole spices contain lots of aromatic oils. When you grind them, those oils dissipate quickly. Grind your spices as you need them. If you have a spice grinder (or an old coffee bean grinder) throw all your whole spices into the machine and pulse until they are ground. If you do not have a spice grinder, throw those whole spices in a ziplock bag and seal it. Then bash them with a mallet or rolling pin until they are crushed.
Divide your crushed spices and minced garlic evenly among your jars. Pour saltwater over your cucumbers until the stems are fully covered, leaving a tiny bit of room for fresh herbs and air at the top of the jar. Tuck fresh herbs evenly on top of cucumbers. Wipe the rim of your jars. Seal your jars.
For refrigerator pickles, place your sealed jar at the back of your fridge and let it sit for 5-7 days. Eat them within 2 weeks of opening.
For water bath pickles, fill your canner with water and bring to boil. Place your sealed jars in the water so they are covered by at least an inch of water. Place lid on canner and heat until your pressure valve shows you have come up to a safe canning temperature for your altitude. Process pickles for 15 minutes, remove and cool. These will keep for a year in your pantry.
How bout them tasty pickles?! Let me know how you like them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!