"Pickling" cucumbers will make crunchier pickles than "table" or "slicing" varieties. Select top-quality, unwaxed cucumbers; use them within 24 hours of harvest or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to one week. To prepare cucumbers for pickling, cut off blossom ends. Wash well, especially around stems. Save odd-shaped or more mature cucumbers for relish and bread-and-butter style pickles.
Use granulated pickling or canning salt; table salt may darken pickles.
Cider vinegar is most often used, but white vinegar can be used. Choose high-grade vinegar of 5 percent acid. Never dilute vinegar more than is indicated in recipe. For a less-sour product, add more sugar.
Sugar helps keep pickles firm. Use granulated white sugar unless the recipe specifies brown sugar.
Use fresh spices for best flavor. Substituting ground spices for a whole spice may cause cloudiness.
Hard water may prevent brined pickles from curing properly; use soft or distilled water for best quality.
Use stoneware, glass, enamel, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic containers and utensils. Do not use aluminum, brass, copper, zinc, galvanized, or iron utensils.
Make your own pickles with our quick tutorial on the supplies and steps that preserve your garden vegetables year-round.