If you have a whole slew of cucumbers growing in your garden – it’s time to make an incredible batch of delicious, old fashioned pickles in a crock!
Crock pickles, often called barrel or jar pickles, are one of the easiest of all pickles to make. Not only is there no canning required, they can be prepared for pickling in mere minutes. Talk about easy pickle making!
But more than anything else, it is the taste that will have you creating these tasty treats every chance you get. The crispy, crunchy texture of crock pickles are hard to beat. So much so that although a big batch can last in the refrigerator for months on end, they will barely make it past a week before they are gone!
Making Old Fashioned Dill Pickles In A Crock
Pickles made in a crock are created through the process of fermentation. The method has been around for centuries, and is a safe and healthy way of preserving many foods.
When pickling through fermentation, a salt brine is used in place of vinegar. This gives the pickles a very light and airy taste compared to the more harsh flavor of vinegar based pickles. In addition, since the liquid is poured over the cucumbers at room temperature, it creates an ultra-crunchy pickle.
The process is quite simple and requires no refrigeration while the cucumbers pickle. It really is as simple as putting your cucumbers into a container and waiting for magic to happen!
How To Make Old Fashioned Dill Pickles In A Crock
As you will see below in the recipe, our favorite way to make these pickles is with a few hot peppers and garlic added to the mix. It gives the pickles a wonderful garlicky heat that is second to none.
The hot peppers do not create an overly spicy pickle, but just enough heat to add great flavor. You can certainly omit the garlic and hot peppers without affecting the pickles at all, as both are added purely for taste.
Selecting Your Cucumbers
A good old-fashioned pickle begins with selecting the best cucumbers you can find. More than anything else, whether purchasing cucumbers at a market, or harvesting your own, starting with fresh, crisp cucumbers is the ultimate key to success.
Unfortunately, once a cucumber goes soft, there is no turning back. The fact is, if you start with an older or soft cucumber, you are going to end up with a soft and uninviting pickle.
It’s also very important to select the right type of cucumber for pickling! There are a multitude of cucumber plant varieties that are perfect for making pickles. Boston Pickling Cucumber, National Pickling Cucumber & Bushmaster are all at the top of the list. See: The 4 Best Cucumber Plants For Making Pickles
The cucumbers you select should be firm and without blemishes. As for size, try to select cucumbers that are between four and five inches in length with a stocky, blocky, middle section.
Do not attempt to ferment any pickles that have bruises or cuts. These can easily go bad and ruin the rest of your pickles in the process. Now, lets take a look at the recipe!
Selecting Your Crock or Container
A classic stoneware crock makes the perfect container for fermenting. These were the vessels of choice in the old days for fermenting all kinds of food. We have included links below for the crocks, but you can also use glass jars, small barrels, or any other container that holds liquid and can be sanitized prior to use.
Large canning jars also work especially well for fermenting pickles. Although quart jars will work, it is best to use jars that are least a half gallon in size. It simply allows for more pickles and brine to work its magic.
The Recipe – How To Make Old Fashioned Pickles In A Crock
The recipe below makes enough pickles to fill a one (1) gallon crock. It can be adjusted to create more or less, but be sure to keep the ingredients in identical proportions.
The most important part of all is to keep the ratio of salt water (brine) exact. You can omit the garlic or hot peppers if you wish, or add dill if you want to make dill crock pickles – but the brine needs to be used in the ratio provided to properly ferment the pickles
Here is what you will need to make the pickles:
- 4-5 pounds of pickling cucumbers
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 8 cups of water
- fresh garlic cloves (8)
- 2 to 4 whole hot peppers ( cayenne work well)
- whole grape leaves (10 large leaves will be plenty)
If you would like to turn your cucumbers into dill-style crock pickles, you will need the following ingredients as well:
- 4 large springs of fresh dill
- mustard seed
Filling The Crock
Begin by washing your cucumbers thoroughly in cold water. Do not use hot water as this can soften the skins. Next, place the pickles down in an ice bath for 15 to 20 minutes. The ice bath will help to crisp up the cucumber’s skin before going into the container.
Layer the bottom of your crock or container with pickles. As you fill your container, layer in the spices equally throughout. Every so often, place in a grape leaf as well.
For a (1) gallon crock, place 3 or 4 leaves throughout the crock as you add the pickles. The grape leaves are actually a wonderful, all natural way to help keep the pickles crisp. Horseradish leaves will also work for this process as another option.
There is no right or wrong method as you place in the ingredients. You are just simply trying to place them in evenly to help the flavors meld while the cucumbers ferment.
Pour in the Salt Water Mixture
Now it is time to pour in the brine to get the fermentation process going. Before pouring in the brine, pack down the cucumbers one last time to get them to fit as tightly as possible. Do not crush the cucumbers, but make sure to pack them in as firm as possible.
To make your brine, dissolve (6) tablespoons of salt into the half gallon of water. Although you can use many salts, we prefer to use Kosher salt – not only for the flavor, but for the way it dissolves and really absorbs into the pickles as a brine.
Whatever salt you use, be sure it does not have additives or anti-caking agents. These agents can interfere with the pickling process and compromise the batch. Product Link : Diamond Cyrstal Kosher Salt
Once the brine is ready to go, slowly pour it over the cucumbers. Fill the crock or container full of liquid so that it covers the cucumbers completely with at least an inch of coverage. Now it is time to weigh down the cucumbers and get the crock to a cool, dark place to ferment.
Weighing Down The Pickles – How To Make Pickles In A Crock
Weighing down the pickles down with a weight is one of the most important steps in the process.
The weight needs to go on so that the cucumbers can’t reach the surface – and more importantly, get air to them. Keeping them submerged is the key to success as it prevents the cucumbers from molding or spoiling.
Weighted crock stones are wonderful for this, but you can also create your own homemade weight with a plate and large stone or brick. Once your weight is in place, cover the top of the crock or container with a clean dish towel. This will keep any gnats or pests from flying into your brine.
Place the container in a cool, dark place to begin the fermenting. Keep out of direct sunlight and extremely hot or humid areas. This can lead to evaporation of the liquid and also make spoilage much easier.
Long Term Storage
It will take about 3 to 5 days to get your pickles to the point where they can be ready to consume. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference and taste.
Once you have your desired flavor, you can store the pickles in your refrigerator for up to 4 months with ease. You do not have to store in the crock. You can instead store in clean containers and simply pour the brine over the pickles.
That’s it! It really is that easy! Here is to making delicious old fashioned pickles in a crock this year, and to discovering real pickle flavor.
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