Cucumbers are the best. Whether in salads, or hot food, or nestled in cocktails – who doesn’t love a cucumber? If you have a glut of cucumbers from the veg garden, or if you have an oversupply from the shop – or if you just love cucumbers and want to know what to do with them, why not look into how to pickle cucumbers?
Pickling is easy and fun, and it retains the vast majority of the nutrient of the raw vegetable. Seriously, you could do far worse than pickling your cucumbers!
Why pickle cucumbers
Pickled cucumbers are a delicious, delicately flavoured condiment that goes very well with a huge variety of other foodstuffs; from salads to burgers and everything in between. You can, of course, simply scoff them straight from the jar and not pair them with any other food – don’t be ashamed, we’ve all done it!
Pickling cucumbers is a great way to store them, so it is ideal for when you have had a bumper crop that needs to be preserved. Vinegar is an excellent preserver, and you should be able to store your unopened jars of pickle almost indefinitely.
Pickling is also a great way to preserve any of the nutritional benefits of a vegetable, as they are preserved while uncooked, so you can enjoy your delicious treat and know that it is good for you as well.
How to pickle cucumbers
If you have a basic recipe to follow, and you find that it works really well, you will develop the confidence to add to it and change it to your tastes as time goes on.
Following is the best, basic way to pickle cucumbers for great results:
- Ingredients: 1kg small cucumbers, 85g coarse salt, 1tbsp black peppercorns, 1tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, 10 cloves, 2 bay leaves, 700ml white wine vinegar (and an extra 3 tbsp), 100g white sugar, dill sprigs.
- Cut the cucumbers into matchsticks or slices, layer them in a bowl with the salt, and leave overnight.
- Drain away the brine in the cucumber, then rinse them well.
- Add the spices, except for the bay, to a small saucepan and toast them until they start to give off their aroma.
- Add the bay, vinegar and sugar, allow it to boil to dissolve the sugar, then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the dill sprigs (you can add as much or as little as you like, depending on how Dill-like you ant the finished product to taste) and stir well to combine all the ingredients.
- Sterilise your jars by filling them with boiling water, or placing in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
- Pack the cucumber into the jars, then pour over the hot vinegar. Seal and place in a cool dark place for two weeks or more, to allow the flavours to develop.
- If unopened, these pickles should last for months or even years; however once they are opened they should be kept in the fridge and eaten within a week.
If you prefer visual directions, here is a video showing you how to pickle cucumbers:
Different types of pickle
There are almost as many different types of pickle as there are cucumber – probably more, in fact!
- Quick pickles are those that are prepared in small batches, kept in the fridge and designed to be eaten quickly.
- Vinegar pickles tend to last for much longer; this is the traditional way of pickling which is used to deal with a glut of vegetables.
- Fermenting is actually not technically a pickle, because it generally doesn’t involve vinegar, but it deserves a mention because it is an increasingly popular way of storing excess veg. It uses salt and the natural process of fermenting to maintain crunch and nutritional benefits.
- Pickles and relishes are another way of pickling cucumbers; this tends to be more involved as it often requires more preparation, other ingredients and cooking.
- Different cutting methods will change your pickles too. You can go with fine slices, matchsticks, quarters – or just whack whole cucumbers into a jar and let the flavours develop! How you cut your cucumbers will affect the way the pickle turns out.
- You can also add all sorts of flavourings which will change the final outcome of your pickled cucumbers – these guys go exceptionally well with Dill, but you can also add Garlic, Chilli, Ginger, or just about any other thing that you like the taste of.
Read also: Why are my cucumbers turning yellow?
Pickled cucumbers are delicious, versatile in their uses, and retain all the nutritional values of the raw vegetable.
What could be better than catching sight of rows of jars, filled with home grown goodness, that will keep you in pickled cucumbers over the winter months? Or rather, they will if you can manage to avoid eating them all in one go!