One of the most common ways to prepare cucumbers is by pickling them. Although almost any cucumber variety can be pickled, not all cucumbers are created equal!
Certain cucumber types are known as the best pickling cucumbers because they are made for just that. Small and even, porous with resistant skin, learn more about the best cucumbers made for pickling here!
What is a Pickling Cucumber?
Pickling Cucumbers are just that – cucumbers are most commonly used to make pickles! These cucumber varieties can also always be consumed fresh like any other, but because of their small size, thick skin, and firm, dry flesh, they are ideal for pickling.
Picking the Right Cucumber to Pickle
The best pickling cucumbers to pickle are on the smaller side, with a consistent shape. This will allow them to fit in a jar and thoroughly soak up the vinegar.
It is also important to pick a cucumber of the right age. If the cucumber is too young and thin-skinned, it won’t withstand the pickling process. If it’s old, it will have tough skin and large, bitter seeds.
But how can you tell a cucumber’s age? Size is an indicator of age and so is taste. Look for sweet, crispy cucumbers that are on the smaller side.
It is also important to pick the right cucumber variety. In the following sections, we’ll go over a few of the best cucumber varieties to pickle, as well as their differences and similarities.
The Boston Pickling Cucumber
Boston Pickling Cucumbers are true to their name, and a perfect cucumber variety for pickling. They’re small, with black spines, thinner skin (although thick enough to withstand pickling!), and just the right taste.
These cucumbers can be found at most grocery stores and farmer’s markets. They’re a favorite with home gardeners because of their high yields and solid, crisp flesh that pickles beautifully.
These cucumbers are shorter than your average English cucumber (the kind you see in most grocery stores). Kirbys have thick, bumpy, porous skin, a mild flavor, and a crunchy texture that makes them one of the best pickling cucmbers.
Kirby Cucumbers are the most commonly pickled cucumbers of all. Because of this, they’re readily available for purchase. A Kirby is a great, fool-proof option for pickling.
Bush Cucumbers are another one of the best pickling cucumbers. These pickling cucumbers are around 8 inches long, with thinner skin and an even, cylindrical shape. They can be easily canned or pickled in a jar at home and found in most grocery stores.
Bush Cucumber plants are small and resistant, so these cucumbers can be grown at home — even on your balcony! Just remember that they need plenty of sun and water to thrive and the plant will require a trellis.
The Calypso Cucumber is a hybrid cucumber variety. It is popular because of its above-average yield and resistance to mildew. These cucumbers are green with white spines and are normally harvested at around 4 – 5 inches long. These cucumbers are one of the best pickling cucumbers due to their uniform, blocky shape.
National Pickling Cucumber
Another variety so great for pickling, it’s named after the process! The National Pickling Cucumber is around 6 inches long, with a black spine. Because of its size and thick, tender skin, it’s yet another one of the best pickling cucumbers to make our list. If you’re looking to grow cucumbers at home, this can be a great option.
Similarly to the Calypso Cucumber, this variety is high-yielding and resistant to diseases and mildew. The National Pickling can also be purchased at most farmers’ markets and grocery stores due to its popularity.
How to Pickle a Cucumber:
Now that we know how to select the best pickling cucumbers and some varieties at our disposal, how does one go about pickling a cucumber? Although cucumbers can be purchased in their pickled form, pickling at home can be easy once you know how to go about it!
Here’s how to pickle in three easy steps:
1. First, you’ll need four ingredients:
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of water
- ½ a cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of pickling salt (found at any grocery store)
2. Next, add all of the ingredients above to a pan and allow them to boil, stirring regularly until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved
3. Pour this mixture into a jar with the cucumbers, covering them completely and sealing the jar immediately. Let it sit for at least a day.
Remember that pickles can last up to a month, making them an excellent alternative for a fresh, healthy snack that won’t go bad too soon.
Although pickles can be enjoyed on their own (especially when they’re pickled), and make for a delicious, healthy snack filled with vitamins and antioxidants, they’re also a versatile ingredient that can make any meal tastier.
You’ve probably tried a hot dog, but have you ever had a Chicago-Style Hot Dog? This lunch option can be whipped together in only 10 minutes and is a creative take on a beloved classic. You can’t go wrong with a fancy hot dog!
If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, try this delicious Beef Rouladen, served with potatoes, bacon, and lots of pickles.
For a drink, consider trying a Pickletini – it’s similar to a dirty martini, but made with pickle juice! Sweet and tangy, this might be the perfect cocktail to impress your friends when they come over for drinks.
A Fruit That Can Do it All
Pickles are easy to make, especially with the right kind of cucumber, and they’re a delicious and nutritious snack that the whole family can enjoy.
Ready to continue discovering these funky fresh vegetables? Then learn more about cucumbers by checking out my planting guides, recipe tips, brand suggestions, and more!