Test Kitchen Tips
7 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Making Pickles
Who doesn’t love pickles? Here’s how to avoid the most common mistakes when you’re making them at home.
Taste of Home
Homemade pickles couldn’t be easier. (If you haven’t tried it yet, check out our step-by-step guide!) A little prep work can yield you very tasty results. But if you’ve had a bad pickle—one that’s soggy, too vinegary, too sweet or too salty—you know it can be a total let down. Let’s clear up some easy-to-make pickle mistakes to ensure every crunch tastes great.
Received your masters in pickling? Try all of our best pickled vegetable recipes.
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Using table salt
Ditch the salt shaker and opt for canning salt (also known as pickling salt) when prepping the bring. Unlike the standard variety, canning salt does not contain iodine or anti-caking additives—which can cause discoloration and cloudiness. Canning salt also has a finer texture which allows it to dissolve quickly. If you don’t have canning salt, you can use the same amount of kosher or sea salt.
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Pickling everything together
While you can definitely pickle different veggies (hello, pickled green beans!), if you pickle veggies in the same jar, the colors and flavors will bleed together. Additionally, different veggies need different amounts of time to ferment. Keep them separate for the tastiest outcome.
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Using cucumbers that are too big
While big cucumbers are fantastic for big salads and snacking, quick pickling isn’t the time for the most overgrown cukes. Larger cucumber varieties contain more water, making it difficult for them to achieve that signature pickle crunch. Go for a small, firm cucumbers at your local farmers market— this is the best time to go.
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Boiling (or not boiling)
There are some veggies like zucchinis and cucumbers that don’t need boiling or advance prep work. However, some vegetables like carrots and okra do need about 3-4 minutes in simmering water so they maintain their desired crispness.
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When making your brine, make sure your measurements are fairly spot on, not only so you won’t end up with too much or too little liquid in the end, but so you have the right balance of water and vinegar. When it comes to adding spices, you can do a little more eyeballing and playing around with your pickling spice for striking the right balance of flavors you desire. Try this homemade pickling spice recipe.
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You’re only pickling pickles!
Why limit yourself? You’ve probably had other pickled vegetables before, so why not try making them at home too? Try pickling sweet onions for your summer barbecues as a relish, pickled bell peppers for a crunchy and colorful addition to your dinner plate, or even garlic for a tasty sandwich topping.