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Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe

This easy homemade pickles recipe is perfect for preserving cucumbers before winter. Consume them during the cold season with your favorite foods. 

Collage of photos for Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe

Homemade pickled cucumbers for the cold season.

Before we even start discussing this recipe, you need to know the following: This is NOT a quick pickled cucumbers or refrigerator pickles recipe. This recipe shows you how to make canned dill pickles in vinegar, so you can consume them during the cold season. If you want a recipe to use in the summer, I recommend my awesome summer lacto-fermented cucumbers.

When is the perfect time to make pickles for winter?

It is September, the proper time to pickle beautiful vegetables from Farmer’s Markets and personal gardens! This is the moment, people, as it will not last forever. 

In Minnesota, the summers are short, but the markets offer an abundance of vegetables and fruits from late August to late October.

If you live in a temperate climate with four seasons, August-September is the time for canning pickles and other vegetables, while they are still in season,

This is when I try to take advantage of the beautiful gifts from the gardens and preserve some of them for the winter.

how to make pickled cucumbers 
jars of pickles

Now, you might ask me, why are you doing this? Can’t you just go to the store and buy pickles already in jars and ready to eat?

Yes, I can, but you see, there is something therapeutic about being in the kitchen and making food for my family.

Some would say that the amount of work is not worth it. I will say that for me, it is essential, as I can preserve vegetables using old recipes that I inherited from my family. These recipes were used when canning and preserving food for the winter was the only way of surviving.

Jar of pickled cucumbers 
Cucumber pickle recipe

My collection of cans went smaller and smaller over the years, but I still like to make a little bit of each of my favorite recipes to enjoy them for holidays or when I get homesick.

Pickles are well-known staples of the traditional cuisine of the Old Continent, Europe. Even today, many cultures consider pickled cucumbers to be an essential part of their diet during the winter.

In Eastern Europe, during the wintertime, people replace fresh vegetable salads with pickled vegetables, like cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, etc.

There is nothing better than a jar of pickles on the table during the winter, next to stews, soups, roasted meats, beans, or potatoes. We also make a lot of lacto-fermented foods, like sauerkraut or cucumbers in brine.

What are the best cucumbers for pickling?

  • Kirby cucumbers- are small cucumbers and are very popular in Farmer Markets. They have bumpy skins and firm flesh.
  • Gherkins or cornichons– also small and perfect for pickling.
  • Garden cucumbers are the most popular ones found in North America. They have thick skin and lots of seeds. Suitable for quick pickling if you peel and seed them. I am personally not a fan of them, but I know many people who love them. These cucumbers are sold waxed in the store and need to be peeled.
  • Lemon cucumbers– look exactly like lemons. They are sweeter and delicious in salads and pickled.

What about English cucumbers for pickling?

Please stay away from the English cucumbers (the long, seedless ones) for this recipe. They are not a good option for winter pickles as they become softer the longer they stay in the jar.

You can use English cucumbers for pickles in the summer if you are looking for a quick method of pickling them, especially the refrigerator pickled cucumbers.

Also, buy organic when possible. Cucumbers are part of the “Dirty dozens” vegetables containing over ten different types of pesticides. If you plan to pickle cucumbers, go to the Farmers Market first.

Which pickling method is better? In vinegar or brine?

Both ways are perfect for winter canning but are actually very different techniques.

Pickled cucumbers, easily called pickles, can be preserved in two ways: vinegar or brine. The vinegar version is more prevalent in the United States, but in Eastern Europe,  fermented cucumbers in brine are the thing. 

First of all, this is happening because many cultures have known for hundreds of years that fermented foods have nutritious value and are good for your gut.

There are recipes for winter and recipes for summer. The summer recipes are designed for immediate consumption, and the cucumbers are fermented in the sun.

Overall, preserving vegetables was always a form of survival. No canning for winter meant no food, as people did not have grocery stores.

If you think, when we have weather emergencies, like winter storms, hurricanes, or severe weather, people empty the grocery stores and guess what they buy: cans of anything they can put their hands on!

Today, I will share with you how to pickle cucumbers, a recipe from my old Romanian cookbook. This recipe for homemade dill pickles is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of science, which I like. This is the best method of pickling cucumbers for long-term storage.

Pickles In Vinegar 
Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe

How To Make Pickles:

Step 1. Start with the jars.

Clean them with warm water and soap or put them in the dishwasher and give them a good bath. Then, sterilize them.

I used quart jars with a wide mouth for better fitting the cucumbers inside.

When you sterilize the lids, do not put them together with the jars. I usually clean them in warm water with soap and dry them well, then I boil water and add them for the last 2 minutes to sit in that hot water. Try to replace any older lids that do not look good. If they are too old or have rust on them, replace them.

The new guideline is not even to boil the lids, but for my peace of mind, I think you should place them in hot water at least for a few minutes before you use them. (here is the link that talks about not sterilizing the lids anymore: https://www.freshpreserving.com/canning-lids-101.html).

Step 2. Clean the cucumbers.

Choose healthy cucumbers with no defects or spots. Scrub them well under running water with a brush. If they are curled and not easy to fit in the jar, slice them vertically, like in the picture above.

Slice horseradish into thin, long pieces that will go in between the cucumbers.

Jar of Pickled Cucumbers In Vinegar

Step 3. Fill up the jars with cucumbers and the rest of the ingredients.

Fill up the jars with the cucumbers and add garlic cloves, black peppercorns, dried dill, and slices of horseradish in between. Add 1-2 pieces of horseradish on top.

Step 4. Make the pickling liquid.

In a big pot, bring vinegar to a boil together with salt and sugar. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and mustard seeds. Reduce the heat and simmer the vinegar for  2-3 minutes.

Step 5. Pour the liquid inside the jars.

Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers to fill the jars. 

Seal the jars and store them in a cool place above freezing temperature. These cucumbers will not ferment and will be perfect for the wintertime.

Classic/basic ingredients for pickles:

  • Horseradish root– This is one of the secret ingredients that Eastern European countries use for their canned vegetables. 

Don’t be afraid to use it! Clean it, peel off the skin and slice it into thin sticks that you put in between the cucumbers and on top of the jar.

I also went through some of my old American cooking books (see The Settlement Cook Book as an example), where I was actually able to find a few recipes for pickles that use horseradish.

I am not sure when horseradish went away from the pickled cucumbers recipes, but it is a fantastic preservative that also maintains the vegetables crisp for long periods of time. Also, the pickles are not going to be spicy.

  • Dried dill-  Especially the one you can find late in the fall, with the seeds still attached, is a perfect ingredient for preserving and flavoring pickles.
  • Other treasures to add to your jars: Garlic cloves, thyme, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and bay leaves are great additions. Use them, and your cucumbers will taste amazing.
  • Salt for pickles– You can find it in any grocery store. (NO IODINE added to it)
  • Vinegar– Let’s talk about what is the best vinegar for pickling. I would vote for distilled white vinegar as my first choice. My second choice would be white wine vinegar. Both kinds of vinegar are wildly available, inexpensive, and do not darken the vegetables like red vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Jar of Pickled Cucumbers In Vinegar 
Jar of Pickled Hot Peppers In Vinegar

This is the best formula for pickling with vinegar, salt, and sugar:

As a basic rule, for each gallon of vinegar with 5% acidity, add four tablespoons of salt(make sure the salt is for pickles with no iodine added to it) and two tablespoons of granulated sugar. OR, for each liter of vinegar, add one tablespoon of salt in case you plan to can a smaller amount of cucumbers.

More recipes to love:

How To Freeze Herbs For Winter

Red Peppers in Mustard Sauce

How to preserve Hot Peppers in Vinegar

How To Salt Preserve Herbs For Winter

Mustard Pickled Vegetables

Questions from the readers:

How long should you wait until you can consume the pickles? (for full flavor)?

I would let them sit for at least 3-6 weeks before you start consuming them. I like preserving vegetables for winter only in September-October when the weather is cool.
I start opening the first jars of pickles in late November or December. The cucumbers in this recipe should last the whole winter season until May.

How long does it take to turn a cucumber into a pickle?

About 3-6 weeks. If you place whole cucumbers in the jars, I would say it takes about 6 weeks. If you slice the cucumbers, they become pickles faster.

Can I slice the cucumbers and place them in the jar instead of using whole cucumbers?

Yes, you can cut the cucumbers the way you want them. Sliced cucumbers will pickle faster, and sliced pickles are easier to grab from the jar.

How long can the pickles be stored? How long do pickled cucumbers last?

They should last about 1-2 years if stored in a cool environment.

Why do we use vinegar for pickling?

Vinegar is a mild acid named acetic acid. The acetic acid increases the acidity of the cucumbers and kills off any potential microorganisms in the jars. This is how you basically prevent spoilage and preserve the vegetables.

Is your recipe a sweet and sour cucumber pickle recipe?

No, it is not. I use some sugar in the brine, but it is only to balance the acidity of the vinegar and for the taste. I like pickles that swim in a brine that is saltier, not syrupy.

Can I reuse pickle juice to make new pickles?

Never reuse pickle juice to make new pickles! It is unsafe, and you can get sick from it. Always use freshly made brine for the fresh cucumbers you intend to pickle, especially if you follow my recipe. Use the pickle juice for other recipes, like flavoring dips, as dressing for salads, or marinating.

Do I just place them in cool storage? No water bath?

No water bath. Just place them in cool storage. Vinegar destroys botulism, and this recipe is pure vinegar. Just make sure the vinegar you use is at least 5% acetic acid. The horseradish root, mustard seeds, dill, sugar, and salt give flavor and also preserve the vegetables for months.

Paragraph worth reading, as it explains why there is no water bath in this recipe:

I researched other American recipes on the web to see how they are made. I noticed that most of them add a little bit of vinegar, dilute it with water, add spices, salt, and sugar, and then process the jars for 5-10 minutes.

Now, the vinegar you find in American stores is 5% acidity. If you dilute it with water, you must process the jars because you lower the acidity of the vinegar, and bacteria will develop. Therefore, you need to process them.
My recipe, though, uses pure 5% vinegar without water. Also, the vinegar and spices are boiled together and poured over the cucumbers.

There is no water involved. The pickles will be sourer, but this is how we like them in the winter with roasted meats. They also need 3-6 weeks to be ready for eating. 

As we boil the vinegar before adding it to the cucumbers, the bacteria will be destroyed. Also, because you use 5% acidity vinegar and it is not diluted, the cucumbers do not need to be processed.
This is a Romanian recipe that I adapted for the American world. Vinegar sold in the Romanian stores is 9% acidity, therefore very acidic.

Because the vinegar is so strong, the recipes usually require 1 part vinegar and three parts water. They still do not process the jars, as there is still enough acidity to keep the pickles safe. Does it make sense?

Conclusion:

If you lower the acidity in the pickles juice under 3%, I would say, then you need to do the water bath for them. If you keep the acidity close to 5%, then you don’t.

Where do I store the jars?

If you pickle multiple jars, keep them in a cool place, like a garage, basement, or pantry, above freezing temperatures.
Cucumbers are beautiful and colorful in jars, making them an excellent gift for family or friends around holidays.

How long do these homemade dill pickles last in the refrigerator once you open the jar?

The pickles last about 2-4 months once you open the jar.

Yield: about 6 quarts

Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe

Pickled Cucumbers In Vinegar Easy Recipe 1

Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe- preserve cucumbers in vinegar and spices in the fall and store them in a cool place. Consume them all winter with your favorite foods.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash and drain cucumbers. Sterilize jars. Here is a link about how to do that properly.
  2. Fill up the jars with the cucumbers and add garlic cloves, black peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill, and slices of horseradish in between.
  3. In a big pot, bring vinegar to a boil together with salt and sugar. Boil for only 2-3 minutes, then add the bay leaves, thyme, and mustard seeds. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers to fill the jars. Add 1-2 pieces of horseradish on top.
  5. Seal the jars and store them in a cool place above freezing temperature.
  6. These cucumbers will not ferment and will be perfect for the wintertime.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

48

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 18Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Opened jar of pickles
(Easy Homemade Pickles Recipe )
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Joseph

Thursday 9th of June 2022

Help please. have bin doing hot peppers for years following your recipe. but I did string beans. last year thought I followed same recipe but I can't remember. they were great. did I follow you for vinegar beans ?????

The Bossy Kitchen

Thursday 9th of June 2022

Hi Joseph, I don't think you did, as I do not have a recipe for canned string beans. However, I found your comment from last year where you wrote to tell me that you found this amazing recipe for green beans. Is this the one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RSB3xRngRQ

Helen

Friday 21st of January 2022

Hi, first attempt today. If I Follow all the directions in the recipe, how long would they last once opened? I couldn’t see a reference to this. Thank you.

The Bossy Kitchen

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

I usually store the jar in the fridge after I open it. The pickles last a long time unless you finish them right away. I would say about 2-4 months.

Ayane

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

This a great article, definitely learned something! may I ask if this process would be used for a school project, would it be okay to do the process for just days or about a week? Thank you!

The Bossy Kitchen

Thursday 21st of October 2021

I am sorry, but I do not have experience with these types of activities, but you could try this recipe instead and see if it works: https://www.thebossykitchen.com/summer-lacto-fermented-dill-kosher-pickled-cucumbers/. There are steps to follow, and kids could probably monitor the jars, take notes, observe things, etc. I don't know, just an idea, what do you think?

Gail

Monday 30th of August 2021

Can this be made without the sugar? Doesn't the sugar give the pickles a sweet taste? No one in my family likes sweet pickles!

The Bossy Kitchen

Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi Gail, There are only 2 tablespoons of sugar for 1 gallon (3.78liters) of vinegar. That is a tiny amount of sugar used to balance the acidity of the vinegar, together with the salt and the rest of the spices. This recipe is NOT a recipe for sweet pickles. I investigated some recipes of sweet pickles, and they have indeed a lot of sugar. This recipe is not one of them.

Shelly

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

First time to make this recipe, can I use horseradish out of a jar?

The Bossy Kitchen

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

No, you cannot. It has to be fresh from the Farmers Market, a garden, or a grocery store. If you can't find fresh, please do not use anything else. The horseradish from the jar is processed and not good for canning.

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