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Jul 17, 2006 02:42 AM

Do you make your own pickles?

Help me make some!

I'm going to do 3 large mason jars worth of pickles. I'm looking do something sweet, something sour (dill maybe), and something hot and sweet, but I need recipes. I'm getting the cucumbers tomorrow from a local farmer.

Help! I'm a pickle virgin (*snicker*)!

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  1. Pickle advice:
    Sterilize you jars and lids to keep out any wild yeast.
    Your pickling cukes must be fresh, fresh, fresh! Take an ice chest and a little ice to keep em cool.
    Make the pickles right away.
    Find some young grape leaves and put one in the bottom of each jar to keep pickles crisp in the brine.

    Just use a basic salt-vinegar-water brine, then vary the sweetness or heat or herb/spice. I always make my dills with a head of fresh dill right down the center of the jar, with 3-4 cloves of garlic, a 1/2 dozen peppercorns and a big fat red Fresno chili along the side so you can see it.

    Only three jars? If you're going to make pickles, do 12 or 24!

    You'll get spoiled by your homemade pickles!

    1 Reply
    1. re: toodie jane

      The proportions I use (for about each 2 pounds cucumbers) are 2 c white vinegar, 2.25 c water, 1/3 c Kosher salt. Heat these to dissolve salt. Then season as toodie jane suggests - definitely with the grape leaves.

    2. Check out the Wild Fermentation (great book, too) site at for lots of great, some bizarre but super easy fermenting recipes. Too boost digestion skip the vinegar with pickles and just do a salt ferment. The vegetables will stay crunchy and will be delicously soured.

      1. Thanks for the great topic, RDS. I, too, am considering doing some pickling. Here are my questions:

        Is there more than one variety of pickling cucumber? What should one look for in a cuke one wishes to pickle? What's the best season for pickling cukes?

        1 Reply
        1. re: mhoffman

          Check out the I love Pickles site. That should answer most of your questions.:)

        2. I have slacked off in the past few years on my pickle and preserve making. I need to get back to it. My mainstays in pickles are home made spicy hot Dilly Beans and Bread and Butter Pickles and believe me unless storage space is an issue it is not worth making only 3 jars. Once canned and you get a good seal the jars can go back into the cases they came in and stored under a bed, in a closet, the garage etc.

          For the ablsolute best primer with the most thorough directions about the whole process get your self a copy of The Ball Blue Book and follow to a T.It is a cheap paper back. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment but new jars and lids, a canning funnel is handy (the opening is wide enough to fit the jar mouth) and a granite ware canning kettle with a rack are nice to have. Another add on is a jar lifter. None are expensive and the kettle can be used whenever you need a big pot. I place lobsters on the jar rack to steam them out of the water, or when you want to boil a lot of corn etc. Maybe $25.00 tops and it will last forever.

          All should be available at a hardware store or where canning supplies are sold.

          P.S. for cucumber pickles you want Kirbys, not the regular supermarket variety or English seedless varieties.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Candy

            there are actually many named varieties(given to the seed strain by the plant hybridizer or strain selector) available to both the farmer and the backyard grower. These will vary depending on nationwide locale.

            More important to pickling is probably not the named variety of PICKLING cuke, but using PICKLING cukes instead of smooth- skinned salad type cukes, as Candy points out.

            Pickling cukes have dull skins, shallow indented furrows, slightly bulbous ends and warty skin with tiny bumpy (not sharp) spines. Often the skin coloration is mottled green/yellow green/whitish. Fresh cukes will not bend or wiggle. The skin should be taut.

            Your farmer friend certainly knows the difference and will sell you pickling cukes if he knows you're pickling! If you can find a pick-your-own place, you'll know they're fresh! Have your canning set-up ready and wash and pack your cukes right away. We always set up our kettle outside and use a Coleman stove to boil the jars. Keeps the heat out of the house. I keep meaning to get one of these Japanase table-top butane burners, as the BTU's are higher. Maybe this year!

            Let us know how it goes!

          2. Anyone have any more brine suggestions, or is Junie D's just about standard?