Whether you’re trying to find a way to put all of your old Mason jars to good use or you’re trying to preserve this season’s bounty, you’ve probably considered pickling as a solution, but don’t know quite where to begin. If so, you’re reading the right guide. Not only is pickling an excellent way to upcycle your jars and make the most of your veggies, it’s also an affordable hobby, a fun activity to do with the family, and it yields delicious snacks!
What is Pickling?
First off, it’s more than just pickles—a zesty dill spear is just the beginning. Pickling is a form of food storage and preservation that uses vinegar to extend the shelf life of certain vegetables, fruits, and meats.
And while it may be making a big comeback today, it’s definitely not new. According to The Mason Jar: Preserving 160 Years of History, scientists believe that ancient Mesopotamian civilizations were pickling as early as 4000 B.C.
What’s more, it led to the discovery of the versatility of vinegar, as it’s also gone on to play a role in various sauces such as chutney, ketchup, mustard, relish, and Worcester sauce.
The Increasing Popularity of Pickling
People’s curiosity about pickling always percolates just before Harvest Season, as they consider ways to preserve the fruits of their labor. You could practically set your watch by the spikes in Google searches each August. But 2020 brought about an unparalleled wave of interest.
The coronavirus has had catastrophic effects on the United States as well as the rest of the world. While the virus has devastated people’s lives and businesses, many have taken this time to make positive lifestyle changes and re-engage with their interests.
From cooking and baking to gardening and fermenting, individuals are getting in touch with their domestic side. And, as it turns out, pickling is a fundamental part of this new lifestyle.
Pickling Starter Supplies
It actually doesn’t take much to get your pickling project up and running. If this is your first time, try making a small batch initially to ensure you have the process down. After that, you can start experimenting with flavors, foods, and batch sizes!
Here are the cooking supplies you’ll need to get started:
- Cutting Board
- Mason Jars (recommended: Pint or Quart)
- Mason Jars Lids
Basic Pickling Ingredients
It’s amazing how few ingredients it takes to make such a flavorful snack. After picking the foodstuffs you’ll be pickling, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Vinegar (Apple Cider, Rice, White, and White Wine all work)
That’s right, just two ingredients unlock the potential to pickle just about any veggie. But now we need to consider some of the best spices for the job. Be sure to keep these seasonings handy:
- Mustard Seed
- Red Pepper Flakes
Two Recipes to Get You Pickling Like a Pro
Pickling can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. If you’re sticking with some good ol’ fashioned cucumbers, you can whip up a batch of dill chips in less than a half hour. If you’re looking to get adventurous with different fruits and meats, the pickling process can be a bit more involved. Let’s start simple with a classic dill pickle recipe.
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Ready Time: 1 Day
- Eat within One Month
For this recipe, we recommend making dill pickles fresh from the cucumbers in your garden or from a farmers market. While cukes from the store work perfectly well, they typically don’t have as much flavor.
- 4 – 6 cucumbers, sliced into rounds or spears
- 4 garlic cloves
- 5 fresh dill sprigs
- 1 quart(s) filtered water
- 1/2 quart(s) white vinegar
- 1/2 cup(s) sugar
- 2 tablespoon(s) pickling salt
- Wash all vegetables and jars thoroughly.
- Slice cucumber ends off to discard them
- Cut cucumbers into either spears or thin rounds.
- Add 2 cloves of garlic, 2 – 4 sprigs of dill (if you have dill seed or dill weed this will also work, substitute accordingly), and 1 tsp of peppercorns to the Mason jars.
- Pack Mason jars with cucumbers.
- Pour water, vinegar, salt, and sugar into a saucepan
- Boil mixture and stir often
- Let the brine cool to room temperature
- Pour brine into the jars
- Put jars in refrigerator
- Wait at least 24 hours and enjoy!
Sweet Refrigerator Pickles
- Prep Time: 60 min
- Ready Time: 7 Day
- Eat within One Month
Let’s take it up a notch by adding another vegetable. This sweet pickle recipe includes both cucumbers and onions.
- 3 – 4 cucumbers
- 1 large onion
- 1 TBSP of salt
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tsp celery seed
- Slice cucumbers and onion into thin rounds
- Add cucumbers and onions into mixing bowl
- Add salt into bowl, mixing with hands, and making sure each slice is well covered
- Let sit for one hour
- In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, and celery seed
- Bring to boil for one minute
- Remove brine from heat, set aside
- Strain vegetables
- Pack slices into quart jar
- Add room-temperature brine
- Add a Mason jar cap
- Store in refrigerator for seven days
Are You In a Pickle?
If you don’t have the jars, caps, or ingredients you need, MasonJars.com is here to help. Make sure you subscribe to our new letter for the latest tips, tricks, and product reviews.
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