Did you know that pickles are not only delicious, but they are also healthy for you too?
Pickles are the one common food craving that doesn’t carry any guilty feelings for indulging. Not only that, but pickles are also a sneaky way to encourage children to eat vegetables. (Shh! Don’t tell them!)
In this article, we will tell you why pickles are healthy for you, and in true Makers Make Stuff fashion, how to make easy homemade pickles anyone will love!
Health Benefits of Pickles:
Pickles satisfy that crunchy salty craving that everyone gets from time to time, but, unlike with chips or other snacks, you can feel better about indulging in your cravings for pickles.
Health Benefits of Cucumbers and Pickles
- Pickles are a vegetable! Just four pickle spears count as a full cup of your recommended daily vegetable intake.
- Homemade pickles and pickle juice can replace much-needed electrolytes. The salty, briny mixture used to create this delicious snack can benefit your health by replacing the electrolytes that you lose through daily activities. These electrolytes can relieve muscle soreness. Vinegar is also said to have pain-relieving effects.
- Cucumbers (and pickles) are high in Vitamins C and E. This is especially true of refrigerator or fermented pickles as those beneficial vitamins are not lost or broken down during the cooking process.
- Pickles help you to stay hydrated! Due to their water content, pickles are a great choice if you’re looking to increase your fluid intake.
- Cucumbers (and Pickles) are high in potassium. Consuming potassium-containing foods can help you to reduce your risk of stroke.
Why You Should Make Homemade Pickles
Pickles can protect your health, hydrate your body, and curb your cravings for crunch and salt. So instead of reaching for a bag of chips, reach for your jar of homemade pickles, knowing you’re doing yourself a favor by giving in to your cravings for pickles. Plus, you can be proud that you made this easy, healthy snack from scratch!
Ways to Make Homemade Pickles:
- Hot Water Bath: Traditionally, pickles are made using the hot water bath canning method. The problem with this method, you’re cooking the pickles. When you heat your pickles, you’re losing the health benefits of the raw cucumber. In addition, homemade pickles canned using a hot water bath with never be as crunchy as you want them.
- While many acidic foods can be canned using the hot water bath method, this may not be the ideal method for making and preserving homemade pickles.
- Fermented Pickles: Do you like the sour and sometimes fizzy tang of fermented foods? You can ferment your pickles! Homemade fermented pickles have the added benefits of gut-healthy probiotics gained through the fermentation process. You only need a few additional supplies and added time to turn your refrigerator pickles into fermented pickles.
Interested in trying fermented pickles? This book can help you get started on your journey to making fermented vegetables.
- Refrigerator Pickles: If you are looking for the crispy crunch of the kind of store-bought pickles you find in the refrigerator section, homemade refrigerator pickles are where you will find success. These pickles stay crunchy because they are not cooked or heated and you’re putting them directly into the refrigerator after putting together your recipe. Let these pickles spend a couple of days in the fridge, and you will find you have the crunchy, salty, sour pickles you’ve been craving.
Want to know how to make easy refrigerator pickles? Keep reading!
The Best Cucumbers for Pickling:
Do you plan on buying cucumbers for pickling?
You’re going to want to avoid the long thin English variety of cucumbers. English Cucumbers are perfect for salads, slicing, and eating raw. For pickles, however, English cucumbers tend to have a bitter-tasting skin as well as large seeds which can be unappealing for making pickles.
Search for a smaller variety of pickles with pale green skin. Young cucumbers will have smaller seeds, which is what you are looking for in a pickling cucumber.
Cucumbers are easy to grow!
Boston Pickling Cucumbers or Bush Variety cucumbers are perfect for making homemade pickles. They are easy to grow in pots on your back porch and produce cucumbers all growing season. Keep your containers watered and pick your cucumbers while they are young and small for ideal pickling cucumbers.
Supplies Needed for Easy Refrigerator Pickles:
- Half Gallon Mason Jars, or large container for storage
- 20-25 Small or Medium Pickling Cucumbers cut into halves or spears.
- 2/3 cup of Kosher salt (Canning Salt or Course Sea Salt will also work for this recipe)
- 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (Or A high-quality White Vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons of Pickling Spices
- 4 Tablespoons Fresh Dill (Fresh dill heads are perfect for this recipe if you grow your dill)
- Garlic (use to your taste or leave out altogether)
- Fermenting Weights to keep your pickles under the brine during the refrigeration period.
- Cold Filtered Water (about 1/2 gallon)
How to Make Homemade Pickles:
- Step 1: Gently rinse your cucumbers. (You don’t want to scrub them.)
- Step 2 : Trim off the blossom end of your cucumbers and slice your cucumbers into halves or spears. Trimming off the blossom end will help your pickles stay crunchy.
- Step 3: Place your dill, garlic, and pickling spices into the bottom of your half-gallon mason jar. If you add your spices after your cucumbers, they will sit at the top of the brine and won’t flavor all of your pickles.
- Step 4: Add your sliced cucumbers on top of the seasonings in the mason jar.
- Step 5: In a separate container, mix your cider vinegar, kosher salt, and half a gallon of cold water. This mixture creates your brine. You want to make sure this is stirred thoroughly, so the salt dissolves completely into the brine.
- Step 6: Add your brine to the jar containing the cucumbers and seasonings. If your cucumbers float in the brine, use your fermenting weights to hold the pickles down under the brine.
- Step 7: Cover your mason jar with a lid and transfer directly into the refrigerator. Leave alone in the back of the fridge for 2-4 days before you start to taste your pickles. Around day four, your pickles should taste like store-bought half-sour pickles.
This same recipe can be used to create fermented pickles. You may lose some of the crunch (not all), but you will gain tangy, sour, gut-happy probiotics with fermenting your pickles.
After step 6: cover your mason jar lightly with your lid, do not screw closed. Leave your jar on your counter, out of direct sunlight, for two days.
Starting on day two, taste your pickles to see if they are developing a briny, tangy fermented pickle taste. You can leave your jar on the counter for up to four days before transferring to the fridge. Your pickles will continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator if you’re looking for a stronger fermented pickle taste.
*Please note that the brine can take on a cloudy appearance when fermenting your pickles. Cloudy brine is ok. Fuzzy brine is not. Fermenting anything is best done in mild weather. If conditions in your home are too hot, this can lead to a build-up of unhealthy bacteria in your ferments.
Likewise, if you’re fermenting foods in the wintertime, the process can take a day or two longer because of the colder temperature in your home.
Be sure to keep your jars out of direct sunlight and away from cold drafts.
Enjoy Easy Homemade Pickles!
Reach for a jar of your homemade pickles if you’re looking for an easy, low calorie, and healthy snack.
These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. (Although they will be eaten well before then!)
So, grab your supplies and let us know how your pickles turn out!