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Do's and Don't When Making Pickles: About the Merchant


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Always follow pickle recipes exactly. Altering recipe quantities; especially those of vinegar, vegetables, and salt; can lead to the spread of spoilage causing bacteria. Thoroughly clean all cooking utensils in hot, soapy water and rinse well.

When it comes to selecting the produce, use fresh pickling cucumbers, not salad cucumbers. Don’t use waxed cucumbers, the wax stops any pickling liquid from penetrating the cucumber. If at all possible, try to use it up within 24 hours of harvest. Wash thoroughly in running water. Refrigerate unused produce immediately. Cucumbers go bad quickly, particularly stored at room temperature.

Wash cucumbers thoroughly in cool running water. Scrub with a soft vegetable brush to remove any dirt or sand granules. Remove any blossoms and stems, then cut the cucumber about 1/16 inch from the blossom end.

Use pickling salt, not table salt. Table salt contains iodine, a chemical that can darken your pickles. Anticaking agents in table salt can cause cloudiness in your brine.

Use commercial white vinegar with at least 5% acidity. While cider and malt vinegars can add flavor subtleties, they also darken light-colored vegetables. You can also use "pickling vinegar" (7% acidity) to make your pickles more sour.

Use only soft water (water with low levels of minerals and chlorine). Hard water (water with high mineral levels) can lower brine acidity, possibly affecting food safety. You may buy softened water in 1 gallon plastic jugs at most grocery outlets.

Use fresh spices, whole, crushed, or ground. Avoid spices stored in your pantry for more than a year. Powdered spices can turn pickling liquid dark and cloudy. Tie whole spices in a spice bag, made from a large square of cheesecloth. Avoid using colored cloth. While pre-mixed 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.

Use stainless-steel, glass, or ceramic bowls. For pots and pans, we suggest using stainless steel, heatproof glass, or hard-anodized aluminum. Avoid containers and utensils made of copper, iron, zinc, or brass (these materials may react with acid and salt).


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