Everybody loves a good, crunchy pickle. Especially when it is made at home, it tastes better and comes without the common preservatives that are found in the commercially sold varieties. Homemade pickles are famous for families whipping up large watches of salted vegetables right after the harvest. These are old fashioned brine fermented pickles, the recipes for which are handed down from generation.
How to make pickles at home?
Here is how you can whip up a batch of pickles at home easily:
- 2 lb. baby cucumbers (select unwaxed cucumbers intended for pickling.
- Don't use immature table-type or "slicing" cucumbers.)
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 8 Thai chilis
- 16 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. of pickling spice
- 5 bay leaves
Follow this process for making the best homemade pickle:
1. Wash the cucumbers thoroughly and sterilize your pickling jar
2. Boil about 2 liters of water in a pot for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool down.
3. Place half of the washed baby cucumbers into the mason jar.
4. Add garlic, peppercorns, chilis, and pickling spice. Distribute it evenly between the cucumbers in the jar.
5. Take 4 cups of water from the boiled water and add 2 tbsp. salt. Mix until the salt is dissolved in the water.
6. Pour the brine into the mason jar with cucumbers. If the jar is not full repeat step to make more brine until the mason jar is full.
7. Put the remaining cucumbers in the jar and press down so the ingredients are tightly packed. The brining liquid should be about 1-2 inches above the cucumbers. You can place a weight above the pickle to ensure all of the vegetables are submerged.
8. Brine pickles for at least 3-5 days. It is best to let it ferment for a couple weeks.
Make sure to keep a bowl under the jar of fermenting cucumbers, as it can sometimes overflow during the pickle fermentation process. You will see bubbles form and you can "burp" or lift the weight up every few days to release those.
Tips for making the best homemade pickles
1. Remember cleanliness is the key. Sterilize your equipment especially the jar. Dip it in hot water and dry it with a clean towel Putting it in your dishwasher also does the trick
2. Make sure you boil the water and evaporate any chlorine. Chlorine works against natural fermentation
3. Larger jars preferably over one liter will make the process easier.
4. Salt measurements should be accurate. 2 tablespoons of salt per liter of water for half-salt pickles or 3 tablespoons of salt for traditional salt pickles
5. Always use quality salt
6. Adding carrots makes the pickles crunchier
Pickles Fermented for One Day VS. Pickles Fermented for One Month
The pickles are usually ready after 24 hours when they are half fermented. Put them in the fridge when the brine is milky and the pickles are pickled through and they no longer float.
If you choose to take the pickles after just one day they might be as flavorful as a two week stored pickle. It's still hard and might taste a tad bit raw. When you keep it untouched for a couple of weeks, they remain crunchy and the flavors are more pronounced. When you keep salted cucumbers for a month, they start to soften up and completely lose the crunch.
Read up about pickling vegetables before you start. Making the brine solution is the most important step and if you get it right, your pickle is halfway there to tasting delicious.