How to pickle

How to pickle

Here at Delish, we’re obsessed with pickles. But you probably already knew that. Well, did you know that pickles are ridiculously easy to make at home?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What kind of cuke should I use?

We highly recommend using either Persian or Kirby cucumbers. They’re both classic and stay nice and crunchy. Use Persian if you’re not so into seeds. That’s what we used here. They also pack nicely because they’re super straight and thin.

Does the type of vinegar matter?

Yes, and no. We used white vinegar here so the flavor would be clean and it wouldn’t discolor the pickle, but you could swap for apple cider vinegar. Stay away from vinegars that are too overpowering, like red wine vinegar, sherry, or. gasp. balsamic!

Can I add other flavors?

Yes! We kept it simple by adding a few crushed garlic cloves and fresh dill, but feel free to get creative. Add mustard seeds, whole black peppercorns, crushed red pepper flakes, or even fresh chiles for a kick!

What jar should I use?

We love mason jars for the job, but you could even use an old (washed) pickle jar. Just always be sure to use a clean jar with a tight lid.

How long does it take to “pickle”?

We say wait at least 2 hours for the pickling to kick in, but if you can, try to give it 24 hours for max flavor.

How long will it last?

These pickles will last for up to a week in your refrigerator, but we doubt you’ll have any left at that point 😉.

Once you’ve mastered these classic pickles, the possibilities are endless. Save the brine for your Thanksgiving turkey, make a savory cheesecake (we’re serious), or just add to sandwiches!


Knowledge of the following is required:

  1. Python 3
  2. Basic Python data structures like dictionary
  3. File operations in Python


Literally, the term pickle means storing something in a saline solution. Only here, instead of vegetables its objects. Not everything in life can be seen as 0s and 1s (gosh! philosophy), but pickling helps us achieve that since it converts any kind of complex data to 0s and 1s (byte streams). This process can be referred to as pickling, serialization, flattening or marshalling. The resulting byte stream can also be converted back into Python objects by a process known as Unpickling.

Why Pickle?

Since we are dealing with binary, the data is not written but dumped and similarly, the data is not read, it is loaded. For example, when you play a game like ‘Dave’ and you reach a certain level, you would want to save it right? As you know there are various attributes to this game like, health, gems collected etc. So when you save your game, say at level 7 when you have one heart for health and thirty hundred points, an object is created from a class Dave with these values. When you click the ‘Save’ button, this object is serialized and saved or in other words pickled. Needless to say, when you restore a saved game, you will be loading data from its pickled state thus unpickling it.

The real world uses of Pickling and Unpickling are widespread as they allow you to easily send data from one server to another, and store it in a file or database.

WARNING: Never unpickle data received from an untrusted source as this may pose some serious security risks. The Pickle module is not capable of knowing or raising errors while pickling malicious data.

Pickling and Unpickling can be used only if the corresponding module Pickle is imported. You can do this by using the following command:

Pickle at Work

Now let’s see a simple example of how to pickle a dictionary.

Note the usage of “wb” instead of “w” as all the operations are done using bytes. At this point, you can go and open the Emp.pickle file in the current working directory using a Notepad and see how the pickled data looks.

So, now that the data has been pickled, let’s work on how to unpickle this dictionary.

Now you will get the employees dictionary as we initialized earlier. Note the usage of “rb” instead of “r” as we are reading bytes. This is a very basic example, be sure to try more on your own.

If you want to get a byte string containing the pickled data instead of a pickled representation of obj, then you need to use dumps. Similarly to read pickled representation of objects from byte streams you should use loads.

Data stream format

The data stream format is referred to as the protocol which specifies the output format of the pickled data. There are several protocol versions that are available. You must be aware of the protocol version to avoid compatibility issues.

  • Protocol version 0 – the original text-based format that is backwards compatible with earlier versions of Python.
  • Protocol version 1 – an old binary format which is also compatible with earlier versions of Python.
  • Protocol version 2 – introduced in Python 2.3 and provides efficient picking of classes and instances,
  • Protocol version 3 – introduced in Python 3.0 but it is not backwards compatible.
  • Protocol version 4 – added in Python 3.4. It adds support for very large objects, pickling more kinds of objects, and some data format optimizations.

Note that the protocol version is saved as a part of the pickle data format. However, to unpickle data in a specific protocol, there are provisions to specify it while using the dump() command.

To know the protocol used, use the following command after importing the pickle library. This will return the highest protocol being used.


Some of the common exceptions to look out for:

  1. Pickle.PicklingError : This exception is raised when you are trying to pickle an object that doesn’t support pickling.
  2. Pickle.UnpicklingError : This exception is raised when a file contains corrupted data.
  3. EOFError : This exception is raised when the end of file is detected.


  1. Helps in saving complicated data.
  2. Quite easy to use, doesn’t require several lines of code and hence not bulky.
  3. Saved data is not so readable hence provides some data security.


  1. Non-Python programs may not be able to reconstruct pickled Python objects.
  2. Security risks in unpickling data from malicious sources.

Pickling is considered an advanced topic so keep practicing and learning to get a hang of it. Be sure to check out these interesting topics related to Pickling – Pickler, Unpickler, CPickle. Happy Pythoning!

Pickles taste amazing! You can pickle pretty much any veggie, not just cucumbers: tomatillos, carrots, okra, beets, peppers, turnips, avocado. So grab some veggies, vinegar, a few spices and follow our tips for successful making homemade pickles!

Every year, my garden gets bigger. This year I may have gone a little overboard. I’m harvesting way more produce than I can eat and with all the effort I’ve put in, I would hate to watch my vegetables wither in the fridge. So I’m making quick-pickled vegetables (not just cucumber pickles!). You can pickle pretty much any veggie in the refrigerator: tomatillos, carrots, okra, beets, peppers, turnips, avocado. Then jazz them up with some seasonings, such as pickling spice, garlic and fresh dill. That’s the beauty of making pickles at home. You can tailor them to suit your tastes, making them sweet or sour, and adding as much or as little flavoring as you wish.

The trick with pickling is to create an environment that is inhospitable to harmful bacteria while preserving the integrity of the vegetables. The 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water keeps my vegetables crisp in the fridge, but is also acidic enough that they can be canned safely if I choose to. And don’t let a fear of canning slow you down: instead, try making refrigerator pickles-no canning required! (Of course, should you like to can them so they last longer, you can.)

Now that I’ve officially become a pickling fanatic, I won’t waste a thing. Pickled tomatillos make a great topping for tacos. Hot pickled peppers are a zesty-spicy accompaniment to grilled meat. Chopped pickled green beans and carrots are delicious in salads, and the iconic bread-and-butter pickle is the perfect addition to a sandwich. And don’t forget your fellow pickle fans-a homemade jar of pickles makes a great hostess gift.

So grab some veggies, vinegar, a few spices, and get pickling!

3 Tips for Successful Making Homemade Pickles

1. Water: Most water is suitable for pickling, but hard water may interfere with the pickling process and discolor the vegetables over time. Use purified water if you’re in doubt.

2. Vinegar: You can experiment with different vinegars like white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for pickles that you’re storing in the refrigerator. But if you plan on canning them, use vinegars that are at least 5% acetic acid for your pickling liquid. The percentage is often listed on the label. As long as there is an equal amount of vinegar and water in the brine, you can add or subtract ingredients like salt or sugar to suit your tastes. But be aware that if there is more water than vinegar in the brine, it may not be suitable for canning.

3. Salt: Use pure sea salt without any additives or salt labeled “canning” or “pickling” salt. Additives in table salt or kosher salt may make the brine cloudy.

Here’s a simple guide to transforming your fresh summer produce into a sharp and piquant playground for your taste buds:

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables

Wash and chop your veggies into whatever shape you’d like them to be pickled in (thin disks work well if you’re not sure what to do). Certain veggies will be enhanced by blanching them (briefly cooking them in boiling water). At EatingWell, we recommend blanching beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, ginger, green beans, okra and peppers. Don’t bother blanching cucumbers, tomatillos, tomatoes or turnips, however. You can find recommendations for the quantity of vegetables to start with for different kinds of recipes here. To blanch: Bring 16 cups of water per pound of prepped vegetables to a boil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, cover, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes (cook beets for 5 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water to cool; drain.

Pickle (serialize) object to file.

Parameters path str

File path where the pickled object will be stored.

A string representing the compression to use in the output file. By default, infers from the file extension in specified path. Compression mode may be any of the following possible values: <‘infer’, ‘gzip’, ‘bz2’, ‘zip’, ‘xz’, None>. If compression mode is ‘infer’ and path_or_buf is path-like, then detect compression mode from the following extensions: ‘.gz’, ‘.bz2’, ‘.zip’ or ‘.xz’. (otherwise no compression). If dict given and mode is ‘zip’ or inferred as ‘zip’, other entries passed as additional compression options.

protocol int

Int which indicates which protocol should be used by the pickler, default HIGHEST_PROTOCOL (see [1] paragraph 12.1.2). The possible values are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. A negative value for the protocol parameter is equivalent to setting its value to HIGHEST_PROTOCOL.

storage_options dict, optional

Extra options that make sense for a particular storage connection, e.g. host, port, username, password, etc. For HTTP(S) URLs the key-value pairs are forwarded to urllib as header options. For other URLs (e.g. starting with “s3://”, and “gcs://”) the key-value pairs are forwarded to fsspec . Please see fsspec and urllib for more details.

New in version 1.2.0.

Load pickled pandas object (or any object) from file.

Write DataFrame to an HDF5 file.

Write DataFrame to a SQL database.

Write a DataFrame to the binary parquet format.


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  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Whole Celery Seed
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Yellow Mustard Seed
  • 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt

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How to pickle

How to pickle


Place cucumber slices and onions in medium glass bowl. Set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.

Pour hot liquid and spices over cucumbers and onions. Cool slightly. Cover.

Refrigerate pickles at least 2 hours before serving. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Nutrition information (per Serving)

Nutrition information coming soon.

How to pickle

Nutrition information

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Learn the best secrets and tips for crispy and crunchy pickles. I’ve read about dozens of different theories for how to keep cucumbers crispy when pickling them, and I sorted through them, tried most of them, and gathered up the best of the best tips for crunchy pickles in this post.

How to pickle

Ain’t nobody likes a mushy pickle…

It’s a problem that’s plagued pickle-makers for centuries: how do you find a pickle recipe that results in perfectly crisp cucumbers with that highly sought-after ‘crunch’ when you take a bite?

In the past when I’d go to make my homemade pickles, Prairie Husband would always cautiously raise an eyebrow and say in this questioning tone of voice, “They’re gonna be crunchy pickles, right?”

To which I respond, “Er, sure honey… you bet.” And in my head, all I was thinking was, “Why are my homemade pickles not crunchy?”

Honestly, it took me quite a while to figure out how to get consistently crunchy pickles– I tried all sorts of things, and had mixed results. And like with anything else, if you talk to a dozen different people, you’ll get a dozen different answers.

In my quest for the ultimate crunchy pickle recipe, I’ve collected a number of little tricks, so I decided to compile a list. Keep in mind you don’t have to use ALL of them though- and the first two ideas are the ones that make the most difference… At least in my humble opinion. Those first two tips have helped me get the best crunchy dill pickles.

How to pickle

5 Secrets for Crispy and Crunchy Pickles

1. Use small, firm cucumbers.

This is, hands-down, the most important ! If you start with a big ol’ soft cucumber, you’ll end up with big ol’ soft pickles. Always, always select the smallest, most firm cucumbers and leave the big soft ones out of the pickle jar. It’s a natural law of sorts– if you are using ginormous, overgrown cukes for your pickles, nothing will turn them crunchy… No matter how creative you get or how many prayers you say while they are in the water bath canner.

Also, make sure you are using the best varieties of cucumbers. In order to get crisp, crunchy pickles, you need to use the varieties of cucumbers that specifically say ‘pickling cucumbers’ or has some sort of description that uses words like “great for making pickles,” like these. Pickling cucumber varieties are usually shorter and more firm than fresh-eating cucumbers.

2. Jar them immediately after picking, or as soon as possible.

Going straight from the vine to the jar is the best, and I always try to plan room in my schedule to can up a batch right away on pickle-picking day. However, I’ve still had good results using farmer’s market cukes– providing they are firm when I buy them, and I don’t leave them on the counter for days and days.

Additional tip: try to pick your pickling cucumbers before 9am if you can. Vegetables picked early in the morning tend to be sweeter and crisper than those picked later in the day after wilting a bit in the hot sun.

3. Soak cucumbers in an ice water bath for a couple hours.

If I can’t get to work canning my cucumbers immediately after picking them (or when I get home from the farmer’s market), submerging them in an icy bowl of water in the fridge will help them firm up/stay firm. Try soaking them for at least 30 minutes before canning them.

4. Cut off the blossom end of cucumber.

The blossom-end of a cucumber is said to contain enzymes which can cause mushy pickles. Cutting it off is your best bet.

Try cutting off at least 1/16 inch off the blossom end for crisp pickles. The blossom end is the opposite end of the pickle side that was attached to the plant. If you leave a little bit of the stem on that end, then you will be able to tell that the non-stem side is the one that needs to be trimmed.

5. Add tannins to the jar.

This may include oak leaves, grape leaves, or black tea. Honestly? This trick is always recommended, but I’ve had hit-or-miss results with it… If you have oak leaves or grape leaves handy, it definitely can’t hurt to toss one in each jar. Or, add a 1/2 teaspoon of loose black tea to each jar. But again, it won’t turn already-soft cucumbers magically crispy.

Canning Crunchy Pickles: Your Questions Answered

There are some common questions out there about the best tips for getting crunchy pickles, so I’m doing my best to answer them here. Feel free to add more questions in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them.

Question: What about adding Alum?

Back in the day, it was recommended to add alum or food-grade lime to pickle recipes to help with crispness. It’s not really recommended anymore, due to safety considerations. (I’m not really interested in having aluminum in my pickles, thankyouverymuch.) Therefore, I have no personal data to share if these options are really that effective. However, I’m pretty darn sure if you use the tips above, you won’t even need to consider alum or lime.

Additional tip: You can look into something called Pickle Crisp, which is a food-grade calcium chloride additive that helps prevent pickles from going soft. It was created as a better alternative to alum and food-grade lime. I do not personally use it, but if nothing else works, you could try researching it for more information.

Question: What if I STILL get mushy pickles?

Well, then you might as well just quit this whole homesteading gig and go back to buying everything from the store…. Nah, not really. 😉 Sometimes mushiness still happens, even if you do everything in your power to prevent it. Mushy pickles are still quite edible, and if I get super-duper mushiness going on, I usually use those for chopping up to add to potato salad, making relish, etc. Just keep experimenting– you’ll get into your crispy-pickle groove eventually.

Question: OK… now how do I make the actual pickles? I knew you were going to ask that, so I have my favorite old-fashioned brined pickle recipe all ready for you right here. Or, if you looking for a water-bath canned version, this is a good one.

Some Extra Tips for You on Preserving Food…

Listed to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #10 on this crunchy pickle topic HERE.

New to Canning? I’ve got loads of tips for beginner canners (and expert canners, too!) in my ebook and course Learn How to Can. Check it out for more details!

Want to watch me use a water bath canner and pressure canner and get details and expert tips on all things old-fashioned cooking? Check out my Heritage Cooking Crash Course for more details.

Making pickles is a great first-time canning project; it’s easy, safe and odds are good that you already have everything you need to get started right at home.

Related To:

How to pickle

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Pickle How-to

Vinegar-brined pickles require a process known as water-bath canning. Water-bath canning is the simplest and safest way to preserve most vegetables and pickles are no exception. If you’re looking to make a large batch of pickles to give to friends or stock your pantry, or you just want to make a few jars with cucumbers you have on hand, this process is for you. In one weekend, you can easily can enough pickles to stock your pantry for a long time. The great thing about water bath canning is that you can do as much or as little as you’d like in any size jar.

How to pickle

Ball Enamel Pot Canning Set

This recipe makes four pints of dill pickles using the most basic ingredients, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Toss in a hot pepper or mix a little spice into your vinegar brine; maybe cut your pickles into spears instead of slices if you prefer. This recipe is simply a starting point, so have fun and make it your own.

Pickle Recipe

  • 8 lbs. fresh cucumbers – pickling varieties are best, but any will work
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • large boiling-water canner or a stock pot deep enough to submerge your jars
  • 4 pint-sized glass preserving jars with new lids and screw-on bands
  • basic kitchen items: wooden spoons, ladle, oven mitts, etc.
  • non-reactive sauce pan; enamel or stainless steel. Do not use aluminum!
  • small sauce pan for sterilizing lids
  • jar-lifting tongs
  • magnetic wand
  • canning funnel

How to pickle

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Step 1 – Organize Your Space

While you’re making pickles, it’s important to stay organized and be safe. You’re dealing with lots of hot water and really hot jars, so making sure you have enough elbow room and the appropriate tools for the job are essential. If you intend on doing a big batch of pickles, we highly recommend purchasing a water-bath canning kit with all the utensils you need. Jar tongs and a canning funnel at minimum are exceptionally helpful and make handling scalding hot jars a lot safer and easier.

Step 2 – Sterilize the Jars and Lids

Fill your water-bath canner or stock pot with enough water to completely submerge your jars while making sure you don’t over fill. Leave enough room so that when you submerge jars, there’s still a few inches of space left below the lip of the pot.

Next, put your pot on the farthest stove burner from you and heat the water to just below boiling. Slowly submerge your jars with jar tongs or if you’re using a water-bath canner you can lower your jars slowly using the included lifting rack. This sterilizes the jars.

Take your small sauce pan and fill it with all of your lids and enough water to cover them. Heat that pan over a rear burner just enough to get it hot and keep it there. You’ll need the lids further on down the road, but for now, keep them hot and out of the way. This will ensure you have clean, bacteria-free lids when it’s time to put them on.

After about ten minutes, remove your jars from the water bath using tongs or the lifting rack and set them down on a clean dishtowel. Keep them relatively close together so that you’ll be able to easily and neatly move from one to the other as you’re filling them.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Katherine Sacks

We kept this basic pickle brine simple so it can be used with virtually any vegetable. For more flavor punch, swap in different vinegars or add additional spices.

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    • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
    • 10 medium carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, quartered, sliced crosswise into 3-inch segments


    1. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.
    2. Place carrots in a heatproof resealable container or jar (divide among several containers if necessary). Pour hot brining liquid over carrots. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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Yum! I made as written and used the brine to make both fennel and celery pickles. The celery pickles are great to have on hand to make tuna and chicken salad sandwiches. The pickled fennel is good on sausage pizza or sandwiches.

Why is kosher salt needed compared to regular table salt if it is going to dissolve anyway?

Can you process these for shelf life?

I separately cooked carrot sticks, whole green beans, and purple sweet potato wedges in the brine till crisp-tender. Removed each veg when done, to cool and not overcook. Once the brine was cool, I poured over each veggie in separate containers to maintain bright colors. Very pretty and delicious!

i changed the recipe slightly, sorry! after talking to a friend who has pickled before, i decided to substitute acv for white vinegar with 5% acidity. however, i followed everything else exactly and it was fantastic! i would definitely use this recipe again.

I pickle so many things. I teach pickling at a cooking school for home cooks and a good base is great! I’ve pickled red flame grapes, sweet peppers, green beans and just about anything I can think of. One thing that wasn’t mentioned is that the vinegar must be no less than 5% acidity–it says it on the bottle otherwise it will not pickle nor will it be safe.

This is a good starting point, but the vinegar/sugar/salt ratio will have to be adjusted with each batch. There’s a lot of tasting and tweaking involved in pickling because the acidity levels of different vinegars vary widely from brand-to-brand and type-to-type. And I find that most recipes don’t use enough salt. The more inventive you are with the seasonings the better the pickle. Try adding coriander seed, allspice, fennel, dill, garlic cloves, jalapeno slices, red chile flakes, onion, etc. I got phenomenal results with my okra pickles when I added smoked paprika! This basic recipe will only yield basic results.

I make this often, I use thinly sliced onions which turn out great. Almost anything I have on hand is fair game, saves on a lot of food waste. They are all great as a side with burgers, sausages, etc. Also great to add to a plain old salad.

what do the carrots do for it, except satisfy the current trend to have carrots in every recipe. I like baby carrots in pot roast only! period.

For some reason mine came out more of a blue-ish color? I found that odd, but the recipe was still really delicious!

I just found this recipe, so I haven’t made it yet. My question is: Can you process this in a water bath? There’s no way we’re eating a lot of pickled veggies in a few days.