crisp, blemish-free, fresh produceif possible,
within 24 hours of harvest. Wash thoroughly in running
unused produce immediately.
fresh pickling cucumbers, not salad cucumbers.
Dont use waxed cucumbers; wax stops pickling
liquid from penetrating the cucumber. Dont use
bruised or damaged cucumbers.
go bad quickly, particularly at room temperature.
blossom and stem, and cut about 1/16 inch off the
blossom end. The blossom releases enzymes that soften
cucumbers thoroughly in cool running water. Scrub
with a soft vegetable brush to remove any dirt or
- Always use pickling salt, not table salt.
Table salt contains iodine, a chemical that can darken
pickles. Anticaking agents in table salt can cause
cloudiness in your brine.
commercial white vinegar with at least 5% acidity.
While cider and malt vinegars can add flavor subtleties,
they also darken light-colored vegetables.
can also use "pickling vinegar" (7% acidity)
to make your pickles more sour.
only soft water (water with low levels of minerals
and chlorine). Hard water (water with high mineral
levels) can lower brine acidity, possibly affecting
soften hard water, boil for 15 minutes, then allow
it to stand covered for 24 hours. Remove any surface
scum that forms. Carefully ladle the water from the
pot without agitating the bottom sediment.
whole, crushed, or ground. Avoid spices stored in
your pantry for more than a year.
spices can turn pickling liquid dark and cloudy.
whole spices in a spice bag, made from a large square
of cheesecloth. Avoid using colored cloth.
premixed pickling spices are available at the supermarket,
you may want to make your own mix. Just a few possibilities
include cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, chili peppers,
black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds,
whole allspice, whole cloves, whole coriander, fenugreek,
dill seeds, turmeric, celery seeds, dill leaves, fresh
or dried ginger, horseradish, garlic, and hot peppers.
stainless-steel, glass, or ceramic bowls. For pots
and pans, use stainless steel, heatproof glass, or
containers and utensils made of copper, iron, zinc,
or brass (these materials may react with acid and