Homemade sweet and sour pickled cucumbers recipe for beginners. An old family pickling method that works. Nicely explained and illustrated.

Each year we prepare a nice quantity of pickles to satisfy those sweet & sour cravings. We are following an old family method, that comes from my grand grand mother and we couldn't be happier about the way our pickled cucumbers turn out. They are as they should be: tasty, crunchy, a bit sweet, a bit sour. Just perfect. Shall we go through the recipe together? To encourage you guys, we've tried our best to expain and illustrate it. Here goes our pickled cucumbers for beginners recipe.
Jar of homemade sweet and sour pickled cucumbers. An old family recipe for pickling beginners.

Is this your first attempt at pickles? Good. Let's make together your first sweet and sour pickled cucumbers.

Photography of cucumbers getting ready for being pickled

My family is a bit nuts in regards to pickles. Each winter, our cellar is packed with a bunch of different sized pickle jars. We usually prepare all our pickles in September and October. And they all dissapear misteriously, one by one till April, when nature is waking up after hibernation and starts giving us fresh veggies again.

Our family’s pickling recipes date at least since my grand grand mother was around. Since then, all the women in our family have improved this recipe to get what we’re gonna show you today. 

We never post anything without knowing exactly what we’re talking about. So we’re very glad that this pickled cucumber recipe has made it’s way up to deserve it’s own blog post and video. 

If you like watching video recipes, you can watch our sweet and sour pickled cucumbers recipe below. Or, if you prefer reading about it, scroll down. 

Pickling cucumbers for beginners (video)

Ingredients for homemade pickled cucumbers

The ingredients described below are for 1 medium jar that will accommodate about a half of kilo ( 1 lb) of cucumbers.

VEGGIES used for pickled cucumbers

  • fresh cucumbers – 0.5 kg (1 lb) – choose a variety of cucumber that has those little bumps attached to the skin; those are the best cucumber types for canning; here’s an article about the best cucumber varieties for pickling
  • 1 fresh carrot
  • 1/4 fresh celery root
  • 2 fresh celery stem and leaves – so when you buy the celery, buy one that comes with the stems and leaves
  • 1 horseradish root

Notes:
The carrot, the celery root and the horseradish root should be peeled and sliced. Slice them as you wish as to fit better in your jar.

The horseradish root is the ingredinent what will keep your pickles crunchy. 

If you plan on making a larger quantity, you just need to know that the cucumber should be in the dominant veggie. All others are just accompanying veggies, so you only need a little bit of those.

 

SPICES that will give the right flavour to your pickled cucumbers

  • mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • peppercorn – 1 tsp
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dry dill stem with the flower – if you don’t have that, buy some dill seeds from the plant shop and use 1 tsp of that; lastly if none of that is available to you, you can use fresh dill.
A bunch of dry dill stems and flowers we use for pickling
If you find these dry dill stems with flowers, buy them. You will use them for most of your pickles.

THE BRINE for your sweet and sour pickles – quantities needed for 1l of brine (1 qt):

Use white wine vinegar if possible.

  • if you have 6% acidity vinegar • mix 650 ml (22 fl. oz.) water with 350 ml (12 fl. oz.) vinegar
  • if you have 9% acidity vinegar • mix 500 ml (17 fl. oz.) water with 500 ml (17 fl. oz.) vinegar

To this water and vinegar mixture, add:

  • coarse salt • 40 g (1.4 oz.)
  • sugar • 125 g (4.4 oz.)

OTHER
A container of your choice (yes, it can be plastic as well). Here’s a link where you can learn about 3 methods of sterilizing glass jars.

brine ingredients for pickled cucumbers: water, vinegar, salt and sugar
The brine for pickled cucumbers contains: water, vinegar, salt and sugar

The STEP by STEP method

Make sure your container is clean. 

Step 1. Add the spices. If you’re using larger containers, keep some of the spices to placed them as you get closer to the top.

Step 2. Add the veggies in no particular order. You just need to squeeze in as many as possible.

Step 3. Make a cross shaped escape fencing from dry dill stems or celery leaves. That’s for preventing the veggies from rising to the top.

Step 4. Prepare the brine and make sure the salt has completely dissolved. Pour the brine and cover everything. If you have any brine left, keep it in the same place where you’ll be storing the pickles. You might need it later. See below why.

Put a lid on it and store it in the coolest, darkest place you have around. Pickles do best in cellars. That’s because the temperature is lower and most importantly, it’s constant. Pickles don’t really like changes in temperature. 

In case you want to give it a try without having a cellar, look for a place in your house where temperature is lower and constant. In this case you will need to check on them, as they might be ready eaven faster. 

In a basement or a cellar, pickled cucumbers should be ready in about 1 month, but of course this will depend on the conditions. 

You can open the lid anytime and try them and just see when they’re ready. 

A quick tip: check on them from time to time. In case you see the brine has diminished, just add some more to top it up. 

pickled cucumbers sweet and sour recipe pinterest

That’s it. Maybe it sounds complicated, but it’s really nothing difficult about it. Probably the most annoying part about pickling is just making sure you have all the necessary ingredients. 

On a funny note, here are some typical mistakes beginners do when pickling for the first time.

I’d love to hear how it went for you! Let me know in a comment below.

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