This summer I was on a quest to make the BEST Sour Pickles ever. I already knew in order to achieve this I'd need the freshest pickling cucumbers, so I sought out my local farmers market and farmer and quickly purchased a bag full of crispy, firm pickling cucumbers. If you are not near a farmers market, buy the firmest pickling cucumbers you can from your local grocery store.
Now normally you would not think of sour pickles containing pickling spice, but trust me when I tell you the pickling spice, and the salt soak, is what made these turn out so well ... so do not skip it, unless you want limpy pickles and no one wants those.
What do you need to make Sour Pickles?
- Pickling cucumbers
- Pickling salt
- Whole peppercorns
- Yellow mustard seeds
- Whole allspice
- Stick cinnamon
For the pickling spice
3 tbsp whole black peppercorns
3 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
4 tsp whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
For the sour pickles
3 3/4 - 4 pounds pickling cucumbers
1/3 cup pickling salt, plus 1 tsp for the pickling liquid
2 1/2 cups distilled white or apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp pickling spice (see above, or use store-bought)
Fresh dill and garlic (optional)
For the pickling spice: blend 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds, 4 teaspoons of allspice and 1 cinnamon stick, crumbled. Makes 1/2 cup (store remaining pickling spice in a mason jar for use another time).
On the first day:
Trim blossom ends from cucumbers and cut lengthwise into quarters or halves. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with pickling salt. Cover with cold water and mix to dissolve the salt. Place a small plate inside the bowl on top of the cucumbers to keep them submerged. Let stand at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for 18 hours.
On the second day:
Drain cucumbers, rinse, and drain again. Bring vinegar, water, and 1 tsp pickling salt to a boil. Put pickling spice in a spice bag and simmer in the pickling liquid for 5 minutes. Remove before filling jars.
Fill your canning jars (pints or quarts) with the cucumber spears (It helps to lay the jar on the side and fill the edges first, then the center; this keeps the cucumbers from falling over.) If desired, add 2 cloves garlic and 2 or 3 sprigs of dill (or 1 tsp dried dill weed or seed to each jar).
Pour brine over top of cucumbers leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Slide a plastic knife between cucumbers and jar to remove air bubbles adjusting brine as needed to maintain 1/2-inch headspace.
Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth. Cover jars with lids and bands.
Process pints and quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner.
Remove jars from canner and set them upright on a dry towel or rack to cool. Let jars cool for 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on top of the lid is fully depressed and won't flex up or down.
Store in pantry for up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated.
Cook's note - For best results let sit for 4 weeks before opening a jar to allow all the flavors to meld together.
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