I specifically chose to grow pickling cucumbers in my garden this year for one reason. I wanted to learn to make my own pickles!
We grew regular cucumbers last year and they didn’t do particularly well. We got a few, maybe, but not an over abundance.
But this year? Our garden is doing amazing. And over this past weekend we had our first harvest of cucumbers. There were 7 cucumbers “ready.” By ready, you want them to be about 2 inches around and no longer than 4 or 5 inches. Any bigger, and they will become seedy and a little bitter — not the best for homemade pickles. So we picked our 7 pickles and brought them inside and rinsed them with water. That’s all the “cleaning” they need — but you do need to make sure you clean them, if not your pickles are more likely to go bad quicker.
In order to give credit where credit’s due — I searched ALL over the internet for “pickling” recipes, but ultimately ended up following the one that I found on this blog.
They’re called “refrigerator pickles” — because you’re mostly just keeping them in the fridge, you aren’t actually going through the canning process to keep them in your pantry. Of course, if we get enough cucumbers, we hope to do the entire canning process so we can have pickles for the winter. But for now, we started off with the basics.
I made this as CHEAP as possible. I only used what I had in my house and didn’t go out to buy anything.
I used our 7 cucumbers from our garden. 1 pickle jar that was empty from store bought pickles — I always save old jars from things like pasta sauces, jellies or jams, pickles, etc to use later on to store things in jars. 3 cloves of garlic that I had sitting around, and a few heads of dill that I bought last weekend for a cucumber salad.
I boiled the jar to sanitize it, and then stuffed in a head of dill and some smashed garlic cloves on the bottom. We then stuffed in all 7 of the cucumbers — they fit perfectly. We prepared the brine — it was incredibly easy. Since I was only doing 1 jar, I halved the recipe that I used (from the link above).
It consisted of 1 quart of water, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of salt. At the time I didn’t have any pickling salt available (I later bought some at Walmart for under $3), so I used table salt. From my research online, there are no dangers in using regular ol’ table salt — it just has a tendency to discolor the pickles and make the brine “cloudy.” I boiled the brine, brought it down to a simmer, and poured it in the jar. Screwed on the top — and done! The entire process took 15 minutes! And it was FREE with everything in my house already.
Of course, we have plans to buy a case of Mason or Ball jars, and we did buy some pickling salt — hopefully before summer’s up we’ll do some real “canning.”
Our jar of pickles sat on the counter for over 2 days before I put them in the fridge this morning. Now, they’ll sit in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. I’m sure they’re better after 2 weeks — but I don’ t know if I can wait that long!
I’ll have to come back and let you all know how they turn out.. and hopefully by then, there will be more pickles in the making!