I have this belief that anything sold in jars is too expensive and I can just make it myself. Honestly, the reality is that the price is probably the same, however it’s the quality that is so much better. Have you noticed that jarred items are always just sitting on a shelf like “hey, pick us, we’ve been here forever?” Yeah, no thanks. So when it comes to things like pasta sauce, or pesto, and of course, pickles, I do it myself! My insides are happier because I know what’s going in them and there are no chemicals or preservatives, and my outsides are happy because I love to cook and it’s fun to recreate everyday items into something better.
I learned this pickling recipe a couple years ago on a sustainable ranch in California (I know, I’m so cool) and since then, I’ve adjusted it here and there to be right for my tastes. I used to hate pickles. I thought they were smelly and weird, but then I went to this amazing deli in Columbus, Ohio (Katzingers, for any of you Ohioans out there) and their pickles changed my life. I’m a garlic girl myself, I guess you can credit my Jewish heritage for that one, but this recipe can be altered to throw in any kind of flavors and seasonings you want!
Get yourself a nice big jar- or just use the leftover one from your last jar of store pickles. Make sure it’s large enough to stand a mini cucumber on it’s end and wide enough to fit a bunch in. Mine is about 24 ounces.
For the cucumbers, make sure you get the mini ones, specifically the Kirbys. I don’t know why but they make the best pickles! Cut off the ends and slice into spears. You should get about 4 spears per pickle.
Like I said, I’m a garlic girl, so this recipe won’t have any dill in it. Peel about 5-7 cloves of garlic, depending on how many vampires you’re trying to avoid. Drop most of them in the bottom of the jar and put a couple to the side. Next, sprinkle in whole black peppercorns and some whole mustard seed. Make sure it’s not mustard seed powder- that will not go well.
There is no set amount of spices to include because it’s all to taste, so just make sure the outer ring of the jar is covered. Next come the grape leaves. They’re hard to find but they’re important because they keep the pickles from getting all soggy and sad. I find mine in this obnoxiously large jar at one of the odd, European grocery stores here in NYC but you should be able to find them in a regular supermarket as well. Stuff a couple at the bottom of the jar on top of your garlic and spices.
Now for the cucumbers. Line up your spears nicely in the jar, standing on the end. You’ll have to cram the last few in but fit as many in that jar as you can.
Then, heat enough water to fill your jar, and add in 3-5 tablespoons of table salt (I did 3 but my jar is a little on the smaller side.) Make sure your salt is completely dissolved.
Pour this over the pickles until there’s an inch of room at the top. Sprinkle on some more peppercorns and mustard seed, the last garlic cloves, and top with another grape leaf.
Fermentation happens faster in warmer temperatures so the longer the pickles are out, the quicker they will pickle. Mine stay out about 3 days but my apartment is basically an Easy Bake Oven right now. After a couple days, try one. If they’re the right texture for you, just put them in the fridge and they can hang out there for a few weeks. They’ll still ferment but much, much slower.
These would go pretty nicely with my philly cheesesteak recipe, if you want to make a meal out of it.
- Large glass jar
- 4-5 mini Kirby cucumbers
- 7 peeled garlic cloves
- Whole black peppercorns
- Grape leaves
- Whole mustard seed
- Cut off the ends of the cucumbers and slice into spears.
- Peel garlic cloves and place most in the bottom of the large jar. Keep remaining cloves off to the side
- Sprinkle in peppercorns and mustard seed to cover the outer ring of the jar.
- Place a couple grape leaves on the bottom.
- Line up cucumber spears inside the jar on their ends, until jar is completely full.
- Heat water (number of ounces in the jar) and dissolve 3-5 tablespoons of salt.
- Pour water over cucumbers until 1 inch is left at the top.
- Sprinkle on more peppercorns and mustard seed, and toss in remaining garlic cloves.
- Place one more grape leaf on top and seal.
- Leave out for a couple days until preferred texture, then keep in the fridge.