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7 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Making Pickles

Who doesn't love pickles? Here's how to avoid the most common mistakes when you're making them at home.

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Taste of Home

Homemade pickles couldn’t be easier. (If you haven’t tried it yet, check out our step-by-step guide!) A little prep work can yield you very tasty results. But if you’ve had a bad pickle—one that’s soggy, too vinegary, too sweet or too salty—you know it can be a total let down. Let’s clear up some easy-to-make pickle mistakes to ensure every crunch tastes great.

Received your masters in pickling? Try all of our best pickled vegetable recipes.

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Salt and pepper shakersGeorge W. Bailey/Shutterstock

Using table salt

Ditch the salt shaker and opt for canning salt (also known as pickling salt) when prepping the bring. Unlike the standard variety, canning salt does not contain iodine or anti-caking additives—which can cause discoloration and cloudiness. Canning salt also has a finer texture which allows it to dissolve quickly. If you don’t have canning salt, you can use the same amount of kosher or sea salt.

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Pickled Cucumbers . Sliced cucumbers marinated with onions and mustard;Shutterstock / Viktory Panchenko

Pickling everything together

While you can definitely pickle different veggies (hello, pickled green beans!), if you pickle veggies in the same jar, the colors and flavors will bleed together. Additionally, different veggies need different amounts of time to ferment. Keep them separate for the tastiest outcome.

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Four glass jars with pickled cucumbersShutterstock / Tanechka

Using cucumbers that are too big

While big cucumbers are fantastic for big salads and snacking, quick pickling isn’t the time for the most overgrown cukes. Larger cucumber varieties contain more water, making it difficult for them to achieve that signature pickle crunch. Go for a small, firm cucumbers at your local farmers market— this is the best time to go.

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Pickled gherkins in jar, fermented food with spices, view from overhead on wooden tableShutterstock / marcin jucha

Boiling (or not boiling)

There are some veggies like zucchinis and cucumbers that don’t need boiling or advance prep work. However, some vegetables like carrots and okra do need about 3-4 minutes in simmering water so they maintain their desired crispness.

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Jars of pickled vegetables and fruits in the garden.Shutterstock / monticello

Letting pickles sit for too short a time

Not all pickles will be ready in a few days, some need a little longer in the fridge to reach your desired level of flavor. Just don’t leave them in too long, that can cause them to absorb too much liquid and go limp.

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Making pickled cucumbers, homemade pickles in jar on rustic wooden tableShutterstock / istetiana

Not measuring

When making your brine, make sure your measurements are fairly spot on, not only so you won’t end up with too much or too little liquid in the end, but so you have the right balance of water and vinegar. When it comes to adding spices, you can do a little more eyeballing and playing around with your pickling spice for striking the right balance of flavors you desire. Try this homemade pickling spice recipe.

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Pickled vegetablesShutterstock / Cybelle codish

You’re only pickling pickles!

Why limit yourself? You’ve probably had other pickled vegetables before, so why not try making them at home too? Try pickling sweet onions for your summer barbecues as a relish, pickled bell peppers for a crunchy and colorful addition to your dinner plate, or even garlic for a tasty sandwich topping.

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.