How to Make Pickles

Perfect pickling is within the grasp of every home preserver using these easy instructions on how to make pickles. You can vary the spices and vegetables or fruit to give your own homemade pickles a unique twist. Just pick a pickle recipe to get started!

  • Cucumbers For Making Pickles
    Making pickles isn't complicated, and you can preserve homemade pickles using three basic methods: lactic fermentation, canning and refrigeration.
    Photo by iStockphoto/fragless
  • Tofu Sandwich With Dill Pickles
    Tangy, fermented dill pickles complement many sandwiches and contain healthy probiotics.
    Photo by Dreamstime/Angela Cable
  • Cucumbers Soaking In Pickling Lime
    Cucumber slices soaked in pickling lime will keep their crunch when canned.
    Photo by Hannah Kincaid
  • Relish Tray With Fermented Pickles
    For relish trays on demand, store fermented pickles in a cool, dark spot for up to several months.
    Photo by Hannah Kincaid
  • Jar Of Refrigerator Pickles
    Just cover vegetables in sweetened rice vinegar, and you've made refrigerator pickles!
    Photo by Hannah Kincaid
  • Jar of Pickled Chinese Radishes
    Almost anything can be pickled, even these Chinese radishes.
    Photo by Lee Seabrook

  • Cucumbers For Making Pickles
  • Tofu Sandwich With Dill Pickles
  • Cucumbers Soaking In Pickling Lime
  • Relish Tray With Fermented Pickles
  • Jar Of Refrigerator Pickles
  • Jar of Pickled Chinese Radishes

Easy-to-prepare pickles pack a powerful punch of flavor and crunch. Even kitchen novices can learn in a flash how to make pickles and quickly concoct their own unique blends of preserved vegetables and fruits to add a tangy zing to everyday meals.

You can preserve vegetables using these three basic methods: lactic fermentation (cured with salt), canning (soaked in pickling lime) and refrigeration (immersed in a vinegar solution). Each type of homemade pickles described here includes a simple recipe for you to try.

Fermented Pickles

Many pickle enthusiasts swear fermentation yields more complex flavors than you get from pickles made with vinegar. Also called “crock pickles” or “brine pickles,” they are acidified by lactobacilli bacteria and yeasts — microbes that thrive without oxygen while submerged in brine and that suppress the growth of other microbes that cause spoilage. The lactobacilli also produce B vitamins and flavor compounds. These probiotics may improve digestive, intestinal and immune function.

The basics: Mix food with flavorings and place inside crock. Make pickle brine and pour into crock. Cover with a weight to keep food submerged, and drape with a towel to keep out dust. Ferment at room temperature for 2 or more weeks. Check container daily, and skim any scum from the top. Fermentation bubbles may be visible. Taste pickles regularly.

When your fermented pickles reach a flavor you like, you have three options for storing them:

  1. Refrigerate to slow lactic fermentation. Pickles should last 4 to 6 months this way. Note that pickled vegetables last longer than pickled fruits, which generally keep well for only 2 to 3 months.
  2. Store in a dark, cool spot, such as the basement, where your homemade pickles will continue to ferment but should stay tasty for several months.
  3. Can fermented pickles for extended storage. The heat of canning compromises their crisp texture and kills the beneficial bacteria, but the flavor will remain. Canned fermented food could last a couple of years.

Fermented Kosher Dill Pickle Recipe

This recipe, adapted from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling, uses grape, oak or sour cherry leaves, which contain tannins believed to help keep fermented homemade pickles crisp. Store-bought, canned grape leaves will also do the trick. Yield: 1 gallon.

7/30/2015 10:05:33 AM

I made some pickles by naturally fermenting them in brine. They turned out fantastic!! My question is: Can I reuse the brine to make more pickles or should I start with a new brine?

7/20/2015 3:17:18 PM

I love how you mentioned that this recipe is good for cooks of all levels. Cooking is one of those things that you have to learn step-by-step. I haven't yet tried pickling anything, but I am excited to do so. Canned pickles do not appeal to me at all, but I am interested to see how homemade pickles could be different. Daelin |

8/4/2014 11:38:16 AM

Hi, When making my lacto-fermented pickles I add a few of all the leaves mention as well as a bit of horseradish root or greens, depending what's handy, cayenne pepper (whole pod) and a bit of mustard seeds. Delicious if you like a bit of heat in your pickles. A friend visited me and ate almost whole 1/2 gallon jarful of such pickles. Couldn't get enough of them. :) I also add cayenne to my sauerkraut and many other pickles (carrots, radish...)



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