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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recipe: Brined Pickles

Preserving produce using salt water, or a brine, can be a good way to extend the life of vegetables. Fermentation is a great way to store food, and eating pickled foods is also accompanied by health benefits. The salt in the preserving liquid helps to encourage good bacteria while keeping away bad bacteria. 

This recipe, using baby dill cucumbers, is from our Joy of Pickling workshop, taught by chef Andrea Potter, but it can be used with vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and asparagus.

Brined Pickles

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2 lbs baby dill cucumbers (or baby carrots, asparagus, green beans, etc.)
2 to 3 heads of dill (optional)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon salt
6 cloves garlic (optional)
2 litres filtered water
A few oak, grape, or horseradish leaves, or a 3-inch piece of horseradish root

Things you need

Ceramic or glass jar or crock with a wide mouth
Container or jug for mixing brine
Plate that fits tight in the jar opening
Weight or other object to keep the vegetables under the water
Clean cloth or apron
Elastic band

Credit: Sofi Martinez


1. Soak and wash the cucumbers (or other vegetables) until very clean. If they are fresh from the garden, simply wash them; but if they are store-bought, make sure to soak them in cold water for 3 hours beforehand.

2. Put the leaves or horseradish in the bottom of the jar.

3. Add in the dill, garlic, and spices.

4. Pack the cucumbers tightly in the jar, and set aside.

5. In a large jar, mix together the salt and water until the salt is dissolved.

6. Fill the jar packed with cucumbers with the salt water. The vegetables and spices must stay under water; to do this, you can hold them down with a heavy plate. Keeping the plate in the mouth of the jar, put a cloth on the top of the jar and secure it with an elastic band.

7. Check the pickles every day. Using a clean spoon each time, spoon off any bubbles or foamy liquid you see on the surface of the brine, as this can cause the pickles to spoil.

8. The pickles will take from 3 days to 2 weeks to be ready. If stored in a cool place, the pickling process can take weeks or even months.

9. You can taste the pickles to see if they are ready. When you like the taste, remove the weight, cloth, and elastic, and put a lid on the jar. Store the pickles in the fridge.

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