Pickled cucumbers in vinegar- easy recipe for pickling cucumbers. Perfect for preserving cucumbers before winter. Consume them during the cold season with your favorite foods.
Pickled cucumbers in vinegar- easy recipe
In this article you will learn how to pickle cucumbers the easy way.
Time to pickle beautiful vegetables from Farmers Markets and personal gardens! This is the moment, people, as it will not last for ever. In Minnesota the summers are short but from late August to late October, the markets are offering an abundance of vegetables and fruits.
If you live in a temperate climate, with four seasons, August-September is the time for pickling cucumbers or other vegetables. This is the time when I try to take advantage of the beautiful gifts from the gardens and preserve some of them for the winter.
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 very important, as I can preserve vegetables using old recipes that I inherited from my family, recipes used when canning and preserving foods for the winter was a way of surviving.
My collection of cans went smaller and smaller over the years, but I still like to make a little bit of each one of my favorite recipes, just 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 the pickled cucumbers to be an important part of their diet during the winter.
In Eastern Europe, during the winter time, salads made with fresh vegetables are replaced with pickled vegetables, like cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots etc. These pickled vegetables are served with stews, soups, roasted meats, beans or potatoes. We also make a lot of lacto-fermented foods, like sauerkraut or cucumbers in brine.
What kind of cucumbers are good for pickling?
–Kirby cucumbers- they 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 a thick skin and lots of seeds. Good for quick pickling if you peel and seed them. I am personally not a fan of them, but I know a lot of people who love them. these cucumbers are sold waxed in the store and need to be peeled.
–Lemon cucumbers– look exactly like a lemon. They are sweeter and delicious in salads and pickled
Stay away from the English cucumbers(the long, seedless ones), they are not a good option for pickles.
Also, buy organic when possible. Cucumbers are part of the “Dirty dozens” vegetables that can contain over 10 different types of pesticides. If you plan to pickle cucumbers, go to the Farmers Market first.
Vinegar or Brine?
Both ways are perfect for winter canning but very different techniques.
Pickled cucumbers, or easy called pickles, can be preserved in two ways: vinegar or brine. The vinegar version is more popular in United States, but in Eastern Europe, fermented cucumbers in brine are the thing.
First of all, because many cultures knew for hundreds of years that fermented foods are good for your gut and have nutritious value.
There are recipes for winter and recipes for summer, where cucumbers are fermented in the sun and consumed in few days. These summer pickles make a terrific snack in the hot weather, especially served with some good crusty rye bread.
Overall, preserving vegetables was always a form of survival. No canning for winter meant no food, as people did not have access to 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 am going to share with you a recipe from my Romanian old cooking book. This recipe is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of science, which I like.
How To Pickle Cucumbers/Gherkins in vinegar:
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. Here is a link about how to do that properly.
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 clean them in warm water with soap and dry them well, then I just 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 to not even boil the lids, but for my peace of mind, I think you should place them in hot water at least for 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).
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 in thin, long pieces that will go in between the cucumbers.
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.
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 .
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 winter time.
Classic ingredients for the pickled cucumbers:
Horseradish root– This is one of the secret ingredient 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 few recipes of pickles that use horseradish.
I am not sure when horseradish went away from the pickled cucumbers recipes, but it is an amazing preservative and also maintains the vegetables crisp for long periods of time.
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)
TIP: As a basic rule, for each gallon of vinegar 5% acidity, add 4 tablespoons of salt(make sure the salt is for pickles with no iodine added to it) and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. OR, for each liter of vinegar add 1 tablespoon salt, in case you plan to can a smaller amount of cucumbers.
Interested in more recipes for preserved vegetables? Here are few of them:
Here are few things I was asked about this recipe:
How long should you let the jars with cucumbers sit before you start eating them (for full flavor)?
I would let them sit for at least 3-6 weeks before you start consuming them. In Romania, people preserve vegetables for winter only in September-Octomber when the weather is cool.
They start opening the jars with cucumbers, for example, late November or December. The cucumbers in this recipe should last the whole entire winter season, until May.
How long can they be stored?
They should last about 1-2 years if they are stored in a cool environment.
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 on this recipe:
I did some research on other American recipes on the web to see how they are made. I noticed that majority of them add a little bit of vinegar, then dilute it with water, add spices, salt and sugar and then process the jars from 5-10 minutes.
Now, the vinegar you find in the American stores is 5% acidity. If you dilute it with water, then you mandatory need to 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 more sour, 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 we add it to the cucumbers, the bacteria is 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 Americans. Vinegar sold in the Romanian stores is 9% acidity, therefore very acidic.
Because the vinegar is so strong, the recipes require usually 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. They still do not process the jars, as there is still enough acidity to keep the pickles safe. Does it make sense?
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 a pantry above freezing temperatures.
Cucumbers are very pretty and colorful in jars which makes them a great gift for family or friends around holidays.
- 4 pounds 4-6 inch cucumbers
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 gallon plain vinegar 5% acidity
- 4 tablespoons canning/pickling salt(no iodine)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5-6 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- dried dill(or whole dill stems with umbels and green seeds)
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 horseradish root cleaned and sliced in strips
- Wash and drain cucumbers. Sterilize jars. Here is a link about how to do that properly.
- Fill up the jars with the cucumbers and add garlic cloves, black peppercorns, dried dill and slices of horseradish in between.
- 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.
- Pour the liquid over the cucumbers to fill the jars. Add 1-2 pieces of horseradish on top.
- Seal the jars and store them in a cool place above freezing temperature.
- These cucumbers will not ferment and will be perfect for the winter time.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
12 Ball Mason Jar with Lid - Regular Mouth - 16 oz by Jarden
Heinz White Vinegar, 64 Ounce
24 Ounce Premium Whole Yellow Mustard Seed, 1.5 Pound Seeds
Morton Canning and Pickling Salt 4 Lb Box
Simply Organic Bay Leaf Certified Organic, 0.14-Ounce Container
Horseradish Root, Sauget, 6 ounces (Sold by Weight). Great for Planting, Seasoning or Sauces. A taste delight.
Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set, 6 Piece Set