7 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Pickles
Who doesn't love pickles? Here's how to avoid the most common mistakes when you're making pickles at home.
No matter the method, though, you’ll want to avoid a few mistakes so you end up with the tastiest results.
Using Large Cucumbers
While big cucumbers are fantastic for salads and snacking, they aren’t ideal for creating crunchy pickles. Because these larger veggies contain a lot of water, they are more challenging to crisp up in the brine.
For best results pickling at home—be it making traditional sweet pickles or refrigerator pickles—choose smaller, firm cucumbers. You’ll often find farm stands or farmers market vendors selling pickling cucumbers; those are exactly the variety you want for making pickles at home.
Using Table Salt
These salts don’t contain iodine or anti-caking additives, which can cause discoloration and cloudiness in your brine. Their fine texture also helps them dissolve quickly.
While you can definitely pickle all kinds of vegetables, it’s best not to mix different types at will. Different veggies require different preparations and ratios of salt and vinegar, so be sure to stick to the recipe.
The exception to this rule would be recipes that are specially formulated to combine a handful of veggies, like giardiniera.
Not Investing in the Right Tools
When canning anything—be it jams, jellies or pickles—it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Extras like a wide-mouth funnel will save you a lot of hassle (and cleanup) as you portion out pickles and fill jars with brine. You’ll also want to have a jar lifter, a large pot and plenty of jars at the ready for any pickling or canning projects.
Opening the Jars Too Soon
We love making easy refrigerator pickles because they’re ready in just 24 hours! But some pickles take several days to reach the desired level of flavor, and others (like lacto-fermented pickles) can take weeks. For best results, defer to your recipe and don’t crack open a jar until the right time.
Pickling, especially when canning, is a bit of a science. It’s important to ensure that the measurements are precise so you have enough brine to cover the pickles, enough salt to preserve (but not too much) and plenty of spices to season the batch.
So, yes, it is time to break out your measuring cups or kitchen scale. You’ll need these to create a good batch of pickles.
Only Pickling Cucumbers
Cucumbers are just the start when it comes to pickles! You can pickle so many types of produce—and even more—so don’t limit yourself.
Try pickling red onions and use them as a topper for everything from burritos to burgers. You can also pickle jalapeños and other peppers as a way to preserve a plentiful garden harvest. Other delicious yet unexpected pickle recipes include pickled eggs, pickled apples and spicy pickled garlic.