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How to Make Brine-Cured Pickles

Dreaming about making sweet, sour, or spicy pickles out of that horde of cucumbers out in your  garden? Curing cucumbers or other vegetables in brine is the first step towards the satisfying snap of a homemade pickle, and the process is surprisingly simple and inexpensive.

Begin with whole cucumbers up to 7” long, and prepare them by first wiping away any dirt, then trimming and removing any stems and blossom ends.

Next, weigh the cucumbers and pack them into a clean container like a fermentation crock. Cover them completely with a cold brine solution made with one pound of pickling salt per gallon of water. Use one gallon of brine solution for every two pounds of cucumbers. 

Keep the vegetables submerged within the container with a weighted plate or lid.

The next day, add a half pound of salt for every five pounds of vegetables, placing the salt in a pile on top of the submerged plate or lid, so it won’t sink to the bottom of the container. This step is essential because as the salt begins to draw liquid from the cucumbers, the brine solution becomes diluted below 10%. At the end of the first week, and again for the next five succeeding weeks, add 1/8 pound of pickling salt for every five pounds of cucumbers. 


Remove any scum that forms on the surface of the solution, and add more 10% brine solution as needed to ensure that all of the cucumbers remain entirely submerged. 

The fermentation process will continue for up to eight weeks, ultimately depending on the storage temperature. Storing the container at a temperature of 68-72 degrees will help minimize spoilage. 

As long as the brining solution is kept at 10%, more cucumbers may be added to this recipe during the first week or two of the fermentation process. You can easily check this by placing a fresh egg in the solution; an egg in its shell will float on the surface of a 10% brine solution.

The curing process is complete when your cucumbers have an evenly translucent, olive green color. Soak the cured pickles in fresh water for 24 hours to remove the salt, changing out the water several times. A solution of equal parts water and vinegar can also be used to desalt the pickles. 

Will they become mouth-puckeringly sour, or delightfully sweet? The choice is now yours, so bon appetit! 

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