Pickling season is here!
And there’s nothing like homemade pickles.
This guide will show you how to pickle cucumbers for long-term storage, so you can enjoy them all year round.
So, let’s get started.
Things To Know When Pickling Cucumbers For Long Term Storage
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of pickling cucumbers, there are a few things you should know –
Pickling cucumbers are a bit different than the cucumbers you’d eat fresh.
They’re usually smaller and have thinner skin.
This makes them perfect for pickling because they’ll absorb the pickling solution and take on all that delicious flavor.
When pickling cucumbers, you’ll want to use a pickling solution.
This is a simple mixture of vinegar, water, and salt.
You can find pickling solutions at most grocery stores, or you can make your own.
Now, let’s look at the other important things you need to remember for this process –
1. Always Select Fresh Cucumbers
Fresh cucumbers help to ensure that your pickles will be crisp.
Try to select cucumbers that are still attached to the vine if you can.
These will often be fresher and crisper than those picked and stored for a period of time.
But if you can’t find freshly grown cucumbers, any cucumber will do.
Just make sure they’re fresh and not starting to go bad.
Cucumbers should be firm, with no soft spots or browning.
Also, avoid cucumbers that are overgrown, as they will be more difficult to pack into jars and may not have the same crisp texture.
2. Choose The Right Size
When pickling cucumbers, it’s important to choose the right size.
For whole pickles, look for cucumbers that are about 4-5 inches long.
These cucumbers will fit perfectly in a jar and result in nicely sized pickles.
If you’re looking to make smaller pickles, such as chips or slices, you can use smaller cucumbers.
The only difference is that you’ll need more cucumbers to fill a jar.
So, if you’re pickling for the first time, whole cucumbers are probably the best way to go.
3. Wash The Cucumbers
Before you start pickling, it’s important to wash the cucumbers.
You don’t need to scrub them; just give them a good rinse under cold water.
This will help remove any dirt or bacteria that may be on the surface of the cucumbers.
There is no need to peel cucumbers before pickling, but you can if you prefer.
If you do choose to peel them, use a sharp knife, so you don’t remove too much of the flesh.
Otherwise, cucumbers can be left whole.
4. Slice The Cucumbers
Once the cucumbers are washed, it’s time to slice them.
For whole pickles, simply cut the cucumbers into lengths that will fit in your jars.
If you’re making chips or slices, you’ll need to cut the cucumbers into thin pieces.
A mandoline slicer can be a great tool for this, as it will produce consistent, thin slices.
But if you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a sharp knife to slice the cucumbers by hand carefully.
And if you’re feeling really lazy, you can always just buy pre-sliced cucumbers!
5. Trim Off The Top Of The Cucumber
The top of the cucumber is the end that was attached to the vine.
It contains a small amount of a compound called cucurbitacin, which can make pickles slightly bitter.
So, it’s best to trim this end off before pickling.
You can do this with a knife.
If you’re using whole cucumbers, you’ll only need to remove a small bit of the end.
6. Add The Cucumbers To The Jar
Once the cucumbers are sliced and trimmed, it’s time to add them to the jar.
If you’re using whole cucumbers, simply add them to the jar, making sure they’re snug but not too tightly packed.
You can follow the same process for chips or slices, but you’ll need to add more cucumbers to the jar, as they’ll take up less space.
For better results, add the cucumbers to the jar a few at a time so they’re evenly distributed.
This will help ensure that all of the cucumbers are properly pickled.
7. Make The Brine
For those who don’t know, brine is a solution of water and salt (or sometimes vinegar) that is used to pickle cucumbers.
The ratio of water to salt (or vinegar) varies depending on what you’re pickling, but a typical ratio for cucumbers is 1:1 (water to vinegar).
You can also use a 3:2:1 ratio (water to vinegar to sugar) for making the brine.
This is the only solution you need to ensure the long storage of your pickles.
If you’re using whole cucumbers, you’ll need to make enough brine to cover the cucumbers completely.
Otherwise, the cucumbers will float to the top and won’t be properly pickled.
If you’re making chips or slices, you’ll still need to cover the cucumbers, but you won’t need as much brine.
8. Add The Brine To The Jar
Although it’s a straightforward process, adding brine to the jar can be a bit tricky.
The best way to do it is to pour the brine into a measuring cup with a spout.
Then, slowly pour the brine into the jar, making sure it evenly covers the cucumbers.
Once you fill the jar, you can screw on the lid and give it a shake so that everything is mixed together.
9. Let The Jar Sit Until The Cucumbers Are Pickled
Now comes the hard part: waiting.
It takes at least 24 hours for cucumbers to pickle, and it’s best to wait at least 48 hours.
If you can wait even longer, the pickles will be even better!
As the cucumbers pickle, the brine will become cloudy.
This is normal and doesn’t affect the quality of the pickles.
So, just be patient and let them sit.
10. Enjoy Your Pickles!
Once the cucumbers are pickled, you can store the jar in the fridge and enjoy them whenever you want!
Pickles can last for several weeks (or even months) in the fridge, so you can enjoy them for quite a while.
Consume them within a few months for the best quality.
Tips On Canning Cucumbers
Canning cucumbers is a great way to store them for even longer periods of time.
If you want to know more about this process, check out the tips shared below.
1. Use A Hot Water Bath
If you’re going to can your pickles, you’ll need to use a hot water bath.
This is a process where the jars are placed in boiling water for a certain amount of time.
The boiling water kills any bacteria that may be present, which prevents the cucumbers from going bad.
It’s a simple process, but it’s important to follow the instructions carefully to ensure the cucumbers are properly pickled.
2. Use The Right Type Of Jar
When canning cucumbers (or any other food), it’s important to use the right type of jar.
For cucumbers, you’ll want to use a canning jar with a wide mouth.
This will make it easier to add the cucumbers to the jar and allow for proper pickling.
Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose the size that best suits your needs.
3. Store The Jars Properly
Once you’ve canned your cucumbers, it’s essential to store the jars properly.
You’ll want to store them in a cool, dark place where they won’t be exposed to light or heat.
A pantry or cupboard is usually the best place to store canned goods.
The jars need to be stored upright, so the cucumbers don’t float to the top.
4. Use Within A Year
Although canned cucumbers can last for several years, they’re best if used within a year.
After that, the cucumbers will lose their flavor.
So, if you plan on storing canned cucumbers for more than a year, it’s best to consume them sooner rather than later.
5. Don’t Change The Recipe
When canning cucumbers, it’s important to follow the recipe to the letter.
Don’t try to change it or alter it in any way, as this could potentially lead to several issues.
Only use fresh cucumbers that are free of blemishes, and sterilize the jars before canning properly.
If you do all of this, your pickles should turn out perfectly!
The canning process is more involved than simply pickling cucumbers, but it’s worth it if you want to store them for an extended period of time.
In the following section, I have shared some FAQs related to the pickling process.
You can keep pickled cucumbers in the fridge for up to two months. They’ll start to lose their flavor and become softer eventually.
If you want to preserve cucumbers for a year, you’ll need to follow a different process. This process is called canning, and it involves sterilizing the cucumbers and jars before pickling.
It’s a bit more involved, but it’s worth it if you want to keep your pickles for a long time.
You can pickle pretty much everything, but some of the most popular items include cucumbers, peppers, and onions. You can even pickle fruits!
Homemade pickles will last for several weeks in the fridge. However, they’re best if consumed within a month or two.
Soaking onions in saltwater helps remove the bitterness from them. This is especially important if you’re pickling other vegetables, as you don’t want the bitterness to affect the flavor of the pickles.
So, if you include onions in your pickle recipe, soak them in salt water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the pickling mixture.
Over To You
Understanding how to pickle cucumbers is a great way to extend the shelf life of this popular vegetable.
Not only that, but pickling cucumbers also allows you to add your own unique twist to them.
Whether you like them sweet or sour, spicy or mild, there’s a pickle recipe out there for everyone.
So, what are you waiting for?
Grab some cucumbers and start pickling!
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.
I would love to hear from you!
Do share this guide with anyone who might find it helpful.