How to Make Pickles

Everyone loves pickles. And if you are one of the few who don’t you’re really missing out. Pickles help fight disease (see below) and are shockingly easy to make. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on the homemade pickle bandwagon. Read on for how to make refrigerator pickles in a snap at home.

Homemade Pickles

Pickling has become all the rage these days, as has canning, but both of these fads are methods of food preservation that go way back. In fact, pickles played an important role in Colombus’s discovery of America in 1492. You may recall that scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, used to be a mighty big problem for sailors. Luckily, Colombus’s ship stocker had plenty of vitamin C-rich pickles on board to help prevent scurvy outbreaks on the historic voyage across the Atlantic. How’s that for a fun pickle fact?

Homemade Pickles

There are hundreds of recipes you could follow, but here are some basic guidelines to get you started:

  • Use fresh produce, avoiding waxy produce found in many supermarkets.
  • Select the most uniform, unbruised produce for prettier pickles.
  • Scrub well and trim about 1/4 inch down from the blossom end of fresh cucumbers. Blossoms contain an enzyme that causes limp pickles–nobody likes a limp pickle.
  • Use salt with no additives. Iodized salt makes the brine cloudy and may change the color and texture of the vegetables.
  • Use white distilled or apple cider vinegars.
  • For crisper pickles, put the vegetables (whole or sliced) into a wide bowl and spread a layer of pickling salt on top. Cover and let sit overnight in a cool place. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the vegetables before pickling or canning as usual. This is the same idea behind prepping your eggplant before cooking.
  • For refridgerator pickles (like the ones in this post) wait at least 3 days before crunching. For canned pickles (using sterilized jars, a hot water bath, etc) wait at least 3 weeks before using to allow pickles to mellow.

Adapted from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Homemade Pickles


Refrigerator Dill Pickles

{Makes 2 pint jars}

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs baby cucumbers (about 8-10 of the small guys)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs kosher or pickling salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 fresh sprig of dill for each jar
  • 1 Tbs mustard seed, whole
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed


  • Chefs knife
  • Cutting board
  • 2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids
  • Funnel
  • Large lidded pot

How to Make Them:

  1. Wash and dry the cucumbers. Trim away the blossom end of the cucumber, which contains enzymes that can lead to limp pickles. Leave the pickles whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins.
  2. Divide spices and herbs (dill, mustard seed, garlic, turmeric and red pepper flakes) evenly between both jars.
  3. Pack the pickles into the jars. Trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
  4. Combine the vinegar, water, lemon juice, salt and sugar in a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar until 1/2-inch from the top.
  5. Gently tap the jars against the counter to settle their contents and remove all air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if need be.
  6. Tightly close your jars with their lids.
  7. Wait at least one, but ideally 3 days before eating. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For long-term storage, follow the hot water bath canning method.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles Label

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