The Guaranteed Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pickles

by Linsey Knerl on 30 July 2008 25 comments
Photo: Linsey Knerl

I’m a dill pickle addict. Once that seal has been popped on my jar of Claussen dills, I usually take care of that jar within 24 hours. Pickles aren’t cheap, however, so I went for a DIY remedy that tastes pretty darn good (and you won’t need any canning abilities to make these homemade pickles.)

Pickle-making isn’t sexy, and it won’t get you any special perks beyond the joys of eating your own pickles. But it’s cheap, quick, and gives you a sense of accomplishment that you won’t get from throwing an overpriced jar into your grocery cart. Here’s a recipe that that will take care of your pickle cravings with little money and even less time:

Grab your cukes. Pickle connoisseurs will try to tell you that you can’t use the overgrown ones to make pickles. You can, it just won’t be quite the same. If you don’t mind eating pickled seeds (I happen to love them), there is no reason you can’t use up some of those giant, longer-than-your-arm cucumbers in your pickling recipe. If you don’t like the mushy insides, you can always cut the cukes in half lengthwise and scrape out the seedy pulp with a spoon. No hard feelings. (Note: Be sure to wash the cukes and scrub them well or rinse them in a veggie wash – you will be leaving the skins on for flavor and texture.)

Cut them. This isn’t rocket science. You can slice them in any manner you choose. (I prefer short, stubby pickles for snacking, but you can slice them thin or in hamburger sized slices, as well.) If the cucumbers are small enough, you can leave them whole (but pickling time will be longer.)

Prepare your brine. Simply boil 3 cups water (bottled is preferred), 1/8 cup kosher or sea (not iodized) salt, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Once it has come to a full boil, remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature (you don’t want to boil your cucumbers.)

Add your seasonings. While the liquid is boiling, you can begin packing the jar as full of sliced cucumbers as you can fit (with room at the top). Then add your seasonings, which includes 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (you can use less, if desired), ¼ tsp mustard seed, 1/2 tsp black pepper (whole peppercorns work well), and finely chopped garlic cloves (5 or more, depending on how strong you want them.) I also add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and will occasionally throw in a small jalapeno pepper for extra kick!

Fill and seal. Now that your brine has cooled, pour it over the pickles until the jar is full. Screw on your lid (if you’re using a recycled spaghetti sauce jar) or your canning lid and ring (no need to pressure seal.) Now just stick these guys in the fridge for a minimum of 5 days for awesome pickle flavor! They’ll keep in the fridge for weeks (although they are usually gone within days.)

Any questions? (This recipe is an adaptation from several old recipes I found, and one really great one on Recipezaar. Feel free to throw in veggies and spices of your choosing, including onions, carrots, and peppers.)

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Guest's picture
Rob

That's similar to a recipe I've done a few times. I've cheated so far and used a store bought pickling spice and jazzed it up.

Two recommendations from my own recipe (http://www.upmykilt.net/2007/12/in-a-pickle/) - toss the spices in while heating the brine, and after having jarred everything, shake/rotate/mix up the jar(s) every day.

The spices settle to the bottom so you want to stir things up a bit to keep the flavoring action a bit consistent.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have only made pickles 2 times but I am hooked on this recipe. It is much better than the last one I tried and much tastier! I put in a lot of dried peppers for an extra kick. I am hooked with a winner.

Guest's picture
Lucille

Great post! I was digging around trying to find the recipe I used last year and this sounds like the same one. I also made zuchinni pickles with the same recipe last year. They have a different texture but tasted similar and had crunch. Our cuke plants are ready to start pushing out cukes and it looks like they will all blossom the same week.

Guest's picture

This is just what I was looking for! Thank you for posting it.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Great tip!  I noticed that everything settles pretty quickly.  Since I usually check on them once a day (silly, isn't it) I should shake them while I'm in the fridge.  Cool!

Myscha Theriault's picture

but a close friend of mine swears by refrigerator pickles as the only way to go. Sounds like she's not alone . . .

Andrea Karim's picture

OMG, I LOVE pickles, too. I'm going to try this, although good pickling cukes go fast here.

Guest's picture
steve

au contraire, you are so wrong!!--pickle making DEFinitely sexy!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Chuckle . . . Steve, I was wondering how long it would take . . .

Guest's picture
Carol

Our entire family loves pickles!!! I am going to try this recipe on them and see how I do!!! Do the pickles last longer if you use sterile canning jars? Or doesn't it matter, in your experience? (I'm thinking I'd like to make enough to last a couple of weeks, would that work?) Very cool post!

Linsey Knerl's picture

Are always good, but I'm not sure you need them sterile.  Since the pickles are only recommended to be in the fridge for a couple of weeks, I think you can just have them washed in the hot cycle before you prepare the pickels.  My brother-in-law cheats and doesn't even make his own brine or spices -- he just adds cut up cukes and onions to the leftover juice in his store bought pickle jars!  He swears they are good, but I don't know.....

Guest's picture
Jennifer

My husband and I just took our second try at making these, using a recipe from a pickling book I got. We use coriander, too, and are still working on how much garlic is enough, but it's a great thing to do with extra cucumbers--and so much better than waiting for Vlasics to go on sale.

Guest's picture
Nemo

I read somewhere that you can just add cut/cleaned fresh cucumber to a jar of Claussen juice & seasonings (after you've eaten all the pickles originally in the jar.) Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days and you have a new batch of Claussens. I tried it and it works.

Guest's picture
Suz

I've never done this before, but you make it sound so possible I think I might give it a try for some extra christmas presents this year! Thanks for the great recipe... and the excellent comments. I always forget the ever-important step of sterilizing my jars when I do my first batch of jam for the year and I always end up with one ruined batch.

-Suz

Guest's picture
Bree

I too am a pickle addict. Once the jar is open, it takes every ounce of my willpower to avoid eating them all for dinner : )

I recently became hooked on pickled green beans, but I've only seen recipes for the ENTIRE canning process. Does anyone know if this will work for beans?

Thanks!

Guest's picture
Yacko

This works even better if you have a vacuum sealer. Either use a canning jar with the jar sealing attachment or use one of the manufacturers Tupperware-like vacuum container or marinator. The near vacuum means gasses leave the cucumber or whatever you are pickling and the flavored brine solution replaces it and seeps in deep.

Guest's picture
Rob

Bree.. I will let you know. I just did a batch of pickles based on the recipe I linked to earlier... and did smaller jars this time, one with some fresh green beans and carrot slices in along with the cukes.

We'll see how it goes...

Linsey Knerl's picture

I'll be interested to see how you do.  I also wanted to mention that my pickles were a bit weak for my taste.  I have been doubling the salt and vinegar in my batch with much better results.  I you like more pucker to your pickle, you might want to play with the formula a bit until you get it just right!

Guest's picture
Ryan

My wife and I started pickling last year, with the direction of a neighbor that has done it for 30 years. We put baby carrots and chunks of cauliflower in for color. As it turns out, they are delicious too! I'm now doing whole jars of just carrots and cauliflower. I'm going to try beans too.

We did 5 jars of Claussen style refrigerator pickles. The recipe says to turn them over once a day for five days. They are great and will keep in the fridge for a couple months. Very easy to make.

Pickling is sexy!

Linsey Knerl's picture

I'm so with you, Ryan.  I used to not think much of it, but there seems to be a whole group of pickle enthusiasts who have changed my mind on the total hotness of pickling.  Thanks for the turning tip, too!

 

Guest's picture
Guest

Being a veteran of DIY food, this recipes is ok if you use them up in a very short period of time. The problem with all these refrigerator pickles is their extremely short safe shelf life. That is why no manufacturer dares to make them. If any warm up after making them through them out instantly.

Spoiled vegetable products cause more cases of food poisoning then spoiled meats, or mayo. Never put onion in them as onions spoil faster then most other foods after being cut. Spoiled onions are the one of the top causes of food poisoning.

They do taste great but they must be made properly and the fluid should be added to the jar hot not cooled. Remember to wash the pickles well in chlorinated water, to kill and surface bacteria. Especially if they are organically grown, as this type of produce naturally has several times as many bacteria on them as do the other types. Bacteria love organic environments.

Guest's picture
Guest

I also cheat. I use the left over juice from commercially made picles. I collect and refridgerate the juice in 64oz washed plastic fruit juice bottles, and when I have enough home grown fresh pickeling cucumbers ( or store bought in the winter time )I make them by the gallon. I leave the cucumbers whole. I use store bought pickling spices and and fresh Jalapeno peppers to taste. Usually 2 peppers per gallon..They are ready in 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge. Really works very well and fooled a few relatives into thinking that they were the old fashioned work of labor!

Guest's picture
Nikki

How many cucumbers should I use with this recipe? I'm really excited to try this as my first time pickling experience.

Guest's picture
Guest

Daddy just spent a Sunday morning make these pickles with our three kids as I enjoyed my latte. :) Thanks

Guest's picture
Nicole

We love pickled corn here! Weird I know, but my 3 year old eats it up. It's something I have loved since I was a child.