Fairly Soft Water - Really hard water
contains iron and copper, which can affect the color and texture of pickles. If
your water is very hard, use distilled water in the pickling solution.
Otherwise, boil hard water for 15 minutes and then let set, covered, for 24
hours. Slowly pour the water into a container, leaving the sediment behind.
What You’ll Need to Make Pickles
Pickling Cucumbers - If you want to make cucumber pickles, be
sure to use pickling cucumbers. They’re easy to recognize since they look like
pickles. If you use regular cucumbers, you’ll end up with mushy pickles. Always
cut 1/16-inch off the blossom end of pickling cucumbers before making pickles.
That area of the cucumber contains an enzyme that can make pickles soft.
Vinegar - Vinegar is what gives pickled foods their “bite” and what makes them
safe for home canning. For safety, always use a vinegar labeled at least “5%
acidity”. Most store-bought vinegars are 5 % acidity. Check the label before
using herb or flavored vinegars, as these may not be high enough acid.
White vinegar - has a sharper “bite” than cider vinegar and also gives a clear
Cider vinegar - has a mellower taste than white vinegar, but will give a darker
Pickling or Canning Salt - This is basically salt, with no added iodine or
anti-caking additives as found in table salt. The anti-caking additives can
produce a cloudy brine and a sediment in the jar. Iodine can make pickles dark.
Since pickling salt usually comes in 2-lb. bags, you may have a lot leftover.
You can use it like regular table salt. However, because it doesn’t contain
anti-caking additives, it may clog the salt shaker. Pickling salt is found in
the salt section or home canning section at your grocery store.
Stainless Steel (or other non-reactive) Saucepans - Don’t use iron, copper,
brass or galvanized saucepans for heating pickling liquids. A reaction between
the vinegar and these metals will affect the color, flavor and even safety of
the pickles. Aluminum pans are OK for short heating times. Don’t let a pickling
solution sit for too long in an aluminum pan or the pan may discolor.