In order to preserve your excess harvest it’s helpful to know how to pickle cucumbers and other vegetables.
Pickling is a simple and satisfying method of preserving and flavouring vegetables, some fruits and even eggs.
The vinegar that you choose will add its own flavour. Apple cider vinegar is popular, but it darkens the produce, so white wine vinegar is usually best for pickling. Sometimes the recipe will call for sugar to offset some of the sharpness of the vinegar. Use white sugar, as it keeps the pickle clear and light.
It is not so easy to find pickling spices. Food Lovers Market has a good mix. You can also make your own combination of cinnamon stick, mace, allspice, cloves, peppercorns and mustard seed. Use whole spices, as ground spices cloud the vinegar.
Recipe: How to pickle cucumbers
1 kg small cucumbers
5 tbsp coarse salt
Tray of ice cubes
750 ml white vinegar
250 ml white sugar
15 ml pickling spice
2 red or green chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Small packet of fresh dill
Wash the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Cut them lengthways into 5 – 7cm pieces. Or you might also wish to simply cut the cucumbers in half lengthways.
Put them in a bowl and layer them with the coarse salt. Leave for a few hours. Rinse in cold water and cover with ice cubes.
Combine all the other ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Once the sugar has melted, place the cucumbers in the brine and cook for ten minutes at a low temperature.
In the meanwhile sterilise your jars. Pour about 3cm of water into each jar and microwave them on full power for five minutes. Slosh the boiling water about the jar and discard, and dry the jar by placing it upside down in a warm oven. Don’t dry it with a cloth – this will merely re-contaminate it. Boil the lids, even the new single-use ones, to ensure sterility.
Spoon the cucumber mixture into your jars. Make sure that there are fronds of dill in each jar. Seal while warm and label.
Most pickles are best left for a week or two before opening.
Click here to find other recipes for processing your produce.