Pickles have health benefits!
Everyone knows that cucumbers are the main ingredient used to make pickles—a delicious compliment to a savory hamburger, hotdog, or your favorite sandwich.
What you might not know is that cucumbers are also a great source for vitamins K, B, and C. In addition, they contain copper, potassium, manganese, and several unique polyphenols that may reduce the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Cucumbers also have anti-inflammatory properties because they contain a flavonol called fisetin. Scientists believe this property can help maintain brain health and improve memory. Lastly, cucumbers have antioxidant properties that may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Who knew that a little pickle could be so delicious and healthy?
Start making your own pickles at home
You probably have a favorite brand of pickles that you pick up at the grocery store. Though, you can explore a whole new world of tasty deliciousness (yes, that’s a word) by making your own pickles at home. Making pickles is inexpensive and preparation takes only 10 minutes!
What you’ll need
- 1 cutting board
- 1 chef’s knife
- 1 small saucepan (3 quart capacity)
- 2 Ball 1-quart jars (we recommend the wide mouth version)
- 2-4 large cucumbers
- 2-4 springs of fresh dill
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 3 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of Ball Pickle Crisp Granules for each quart jar
How to prepare your pickles
- Prep your cucumbers
- Wash the cucumbers
- Trim the ends off of each cucumber
- Cut each cucumber into halves
- Create spears by slicing the cucumber halves into quarters
- Prep your spices and seasonings
- Peel your garlic with a knife or separate the skin by placing the clove smooth side down on your cutting board and tapping it with the flat side of your chef’s knife
- Chop the thicker stems off of your fresh dill
- Prep your jars
- Wash the jars and lids*
*jars for refrigerator pickles eaten within a few weeks do not have to be sterilized
- Place 4 cloves of garlic into each quart jar
- Divide the fresh dill between the two jars
- Pack your spears into the jars
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of Ball Pickle Crisp Granules to each jar
- Wash the jars and lids*
- Prepare the brine
- Pour 3 cups of water and 1 cup of white vinegar into your saucepan
- Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
- Bring to a rolling boil
- Add the brine to the jars
- Start to fill your quart jars, but don’t go all the way to the rim
- Fill each quart jar to be roughly within a half inch of the top of the rim
- Tap each jar to remove bubbles
- Add any remaining brine (again, staying within a half inch of the top of the rim)
- Cool and place in your refrigerator
- Let each jar cool until it is room temperature
- Place the lid on each jar and seal
- Gently shake/mix the brine
- Place each jar into your refrigerator
- Your pickles will taste amazing in just a few days and will keep for up to three months
Variations to explore
- Try substituting apple cider vinegar to make pickles with a mildly fruity flavor
- Add a few fresh peppercorns or red pepper flakes to each quart jar to add a little spicy zip
- Add a teaspoon each of celery, coriander, and mustard seed for additional flavor
- Modify the ratio of water to vinegar to adjust the tanginess of your pickles
- Increase or decrease the amount of kosher salt you use for more/less saltiness
Fun facts to share with friends while enjoying your homemade pickles
Here are a few additional cucumber factoids to impress your friends and family:
- Cucumbers are part of the same plant family as watermelon, pumpkin, and squash.
- They were first cultivated in India more than 3,000 years ago!
- Greeks and Romans introduced cucumbers to Europe
- Charlemagne had cucumbers grown in his gardens in the 8th/9th century.
- Christopher Columbus brought cucumbers to Haiti in 1494