There's nothing like a crisp, delicious, fresh pickle, whether you prefer yours kosher, half-sour, or sweet. But making sure yours are crisp and crunchy starts with the cucumber — a crisp pickle demands a crisp cucumber, and nothing less will do. Here's how to make sure you get the best ones.
Photo by Karen and Brad Emerson.
First, our friends at Old World Garden Farms notes that timing is everything, especially if you're growing your own cucumbers for pickling:
The best time to pick cucumbers is early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) but not before the morning dew is primarily gone off the plant. The time of day you pick your vegetables affects the taste and storing quality of the crop. Vegetables harvested in the morning generally are sweeter, crisper and juicier than those picked at other times. This is because as they rest in the garden overnight, vegetables tend to replenish the moisture lost during the day. Picking mid-day will result in soft cucumbers that make soft pickles.
Second, they also note that you should cut off the blossom end as soon as you can — it produces an enzyme that will speed the softening process once it's been picked. If you're picking your own, you can tell the blossom end because it's the one without the stem attached. If you're at the farmer's market or grocery store, look for the end with the rough, bumpy dot — not the smooth, indented one — and you'll know which end to cut off first.
Of course, you should also make sure you have the right kind of cucumbers for your pickles. They explain the difference between salad and pickling varieties:
When it comes to making pickles, there is a big difference between pickling cucumbers and salad cucumbers. First of all, most pickling cucumbers are shorter and thinner than the salad variety. They have a small seed core and typically have a thick and bumpy skin texture. They tend to be more crisp, and therefore, when used correctly, make for crispy pickles.
Beyond this, make sure you use good pickling spices (and post linked below will show you how) and that you don't over-process your new pickles. For more explanation on any of these — and a great step-by-step — hit the link below.
The Secrets to Making Crisp Pickles [Old World Garden Farms]