How To Make Pickles

Homemade pickles are delicious and when prepared in the culinary nutrition way, they become a fermented food that is rich in probiotics and fantastic for our health. Most importantly, they are incredibly simple to make and so delicious! Learn how to make pickles at home with this easy, step-by-step tutorial.

Pickled vs Fermented: What’s the Difference?

  • Pickled foods are typically preserved in an acidic medium, such as vinegar. The brine is often heated and then the final product is canned (though this isn’t always the case, as you can make quick pickles that keep for a few days in the fridge). Store-bought vinegar pickles usually also contain sugar, preservatives and artificial colours to maintain their shelf-stable qualities.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickled veggies often use a brine of salt mixed with water, which is then poured over the vegetables. This creates an environment where microbes transform the sugars in the veggies into lactic acid, creating that tangy, sour flavour. You can also use an array of spices and herbs for flavour. But you don’t add any sugar, vinegars or preservatives during this process.

You aren’t limited to cucumber pickles here – you can also use this simple pickling method to pickle carrots, beets, onions, green beans and just about anything!

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How to Make Pickles at Home

make pickles

Gather your ingredients together. For a one-litre Mason jar’s worth of pickles, you’ll need:

  • About 8-12 small cucumbers
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you like them)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup fresh dill (or 2 tbsp dried dill seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 clean Mason jar
  • About two cups of non-fluoridated water

make pickles

  1. Drop your cloves of garlic and dill into the jar.
  2. Add your cucumbers. I recommend stacking the bottom layer of cucumbers and then placing a few cukes horizontally to wedge them in. This will help keep the cucumbers submerged for optimal lactic acid fermentation.
  3. Add water until you reach the part of the jar that starts to taper in. Make sure all cukes are covered.

make pickles

  1. Pour the water from the jar into a measuring cup. For every 1 cup of water, add 1/2 to 1 Tbsp of sea salt (I use about 3/4 of a tbsp per cup of water – you may want less or more depending on how salty you like things).
  2. Stir the salt into the water until dissolved and then pour back into the jar of cucumbers.

make pickles

  1. Seal the jar and set on counter covered or in a cupboard that is not too hot and not too cold. Ensure that the cucumbers stay submerged in the brine, otherwise mold may develop. If they keep popping up, place a rolled leaf of cabbage or a weight on top to keep them under the brine.
  2. Let sit for 3 days and then transfer to your fridge. Open when you’re ready. Use a clean fork or spoon to grab the veggies (no double-dipping).

Note: Fermenting Other Types of Veggies

If you are fermenting other types of veggies, like beans or carrots, they may need more time. I recommend leaving them on your counter with the lid on gently, not sealed, or covered with a cloth to keep bugs and dust out. Taste after 3 days, 4 days, 5 days etc. until they are the taste and consistency you like best. Then transfer to the fridge. You may need to skim a little scum off the top. If you ever see fuzz or bugs, that’s a bad thing and best to discard. When in doubt, throw it out!

make pickles

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9 responses to “How To Make Pickles

  1. Chrissy

    Thanks for this post and for the video! Would you change anything about this process for sliced cucumbers? We got some really big cukes from a neighbor’s garden and thought we’d do pickle spears to help use them all up. I don’t have a jar big enough to store them whole.

  2. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Chrissy! It’s nice to have neighbours who share their veggies with you. Slicing cucumbers will work, but they may get mushy if you leave them to ferment too long. Check them regularly. You could also add in some grape leaves to help keep the sliced cukes crisp.

  3. Pat

    What besides grape leaves will keep the pickles crispy? Why did you not water bath to seal the jars?

  4. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Pat! You could try tea leaves or horseradish leaves, as they have tannins that also help keep the pickles crisp. This recipe doesn’t use a water bath because it is a fermentation recipe, not a canning recipe. Canning requires a different process.

  5. Christine

    How long can you keep the pickles refrigerated for?

  6. Christine

    Also can you use regular table salt or kosher salt if you don’t have sea salt?

  7. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Christine! Pickles should be good for at least a month or two if refrigerated properly, and if you don’t ‘double dip’ into them (as this can introduce new bacteria that may cause them to spoil quicker). We’d recommend using kosher salt if you don’t have sea salt – as the chemicals in table salt will prevent the fermentation process from occurring.

  8. Priscilla

    Can you use whey in the brine?

  9. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Patricia! We’ve never made pickles with whey, as we are dairy-free. You could certainly give it a try!

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