The garden is exploding with cucumbers right now and if you, like me, are lucky enough to grow some of your own food you’ll know how much you don’t want to waste end. Enter the art of preservation and these sweet picked cucumbers.
Pickling is in itself inherently easy and a process we, mostly as women, have been doing for untold time. Its one of those things that honestly brings me joy, seeing a shelf-stable jar of food you’ve sown, grown, harvested and pickled yourself.
So, pull up a chopping board and knife, some pickling jars and lets get preserving.
How to nail these sweet pickled cucumbers
- The most important thing for nailing these sweet pickled cucumbers is choosing small, crunchy and fresh cucumbers. Choose a variety that is small and full of flavour (we like Lebanese)
- If you grow your own cucumbers, make these pickles the day you harvest them.
- Add herbs for flavour. We used dill, fennel and garlic but you could add whole chilli, bay leaves or anything else you feel like experimenting with.
- Use good quality fermenting/preserve jars. We like Kilner.
When preserving and vacuum sealing your jars it is import to follow safety measures as we are dealing with hot temperatures and glass. here are a few tips to follow;
- Before starting check your jars and seals for any small cracks or damage. Cracked jars, rusty lids, broken seals should all be a red flag to not use that piece of equipment.
- Always remember glass can break if exposed to a rapid change in temperature. Never pour hot liquid into cold glass and don’t place a hot glass onto a cold chopping board.
- Minimise the time between sterilising your jars and pouring in the hot brine– you want to have warm jars when adding the brine so the glass does not experience temperature street.
- Never pour boiling water into a jar.
- Find a time when you do not have found kids in the kitchen.
- Invest in special tongs for lifting jars out of the hot water bath, like these ones.
- Finally, always check the vacuum seal after 24 hours. If in moves the seal didn’t work and you cannot store the jar in a pantry/cellar. You can either reseal using the same method or transfer the jar tp the fridge and consume.
As always, we love to hear from you with any reviews and comments so please feel free to leave them below.Print
Homemade Sweet pickled cucumbers with dill, garlic and black peppercorns. This recipe uses small Lebanese cucumbers and requires heat sealing for shelf life.
3 x 0.35L (11.8 US fl oz) wide mouth Kilner preserve jars
1 kg small, firm and fresh Lebanese cucumbers
1 Tbsp salt
3 sprigs of dill
3 Fennel or dill flowers (optional)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup (250ml) water
2 cups (500ml) white cooking vinegar
1/3 cup (75g) white/castor sugar
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds (or dill seeds)
Optional 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- Before you start you will need to have preserving jars on hand. I use and recommend Kilner jars, which you can checkout here. I recommend reading this blog post here by The Prairie Homestead if you want to ensure you get your pickles crispy- this can take time and practice to make sure you get that crunch we all love, and her post is very informative.
- Use hot water to wash your chopping boards, knife and hands and leave to air dry before starting. I also recommend using a wooden chopping board over plastic, as plastic can harbour bacteria and contaminate your food. Get prepared with your cucumbers by giving them a quick wash and patting dry. It is best to choose very fresh, small, firm cucumbers. Larger soft cucumbers will create softer pickles (which can still taste great, but no crunch). If you harvest your own cucumbers then it is best to harvest and pickle straight away.
- Cut 2cm off the blossom end of the cucumber (the one without the stem) and snip off the stem. Discard. Slice cucumbers into rounds around 3mm thick, or the thickness of a coin. Layer into a bowl, salting each layer as you go. Put the bowl aside for 2+ hours (this can be overnight) to draw out excess moisture- you will notice a pool of water at the bottom of the bowl (which is ideal). The larger the cucumbers the more water we want to draw out.
- Once your cucumbers have finished the standing pour them into a colander and allow to drain for 15 minutes. Do not rinse them or pat dry, just allow them to drain.
- Meanwhile, sterilise the jars. You can use any method you prefer, and if you need tips check out this informative post by Kilner. I recommend refreshing your memory by reading this post if you have not used this method recently to ensure you do it safely. Once the jars have been sterilised and have cooled down enough to safely handle, move onto the next step.
- Drop the dill and/or fennel flowers into each jar. Pack drained cucumbers into your jars using clean hands or a very clean spoon to press down firmly, so that the cucumbers are tightly packed. Each jar should be packed until about 3 cm below the rim of the jar. Top each jar with 4-5 peppercorns and a clove of garlic. Set aside.
- Now move on to making the brine. Place all of the ingredients into a small heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing to simmer for 2-3 minutes and then turn off the heat. Cool for a few minutes then, very carefully, pour the hot brine into each jar to 1cm below the rim line. It is best to do this step very slowly, ensuring the glass can heats slowly. Never pour freshly boiled liquid into cold glass. Wipe the rim with a very clean cloth or paper towel. Place the lid onto each jar and secure tightly.
- Heat process the jars for 20 minutes. If you do not know how to do this click here. Once you have safely removed the jars leave for 24 hours and ensure the pop seal is down- the lid should be convex and not move. If etc jar has not sealed you will either need to repeat this process or place in the fridge and consume.