Favorite pickles & how do you keep them crispy?

I’m new to pickling and prefer fermented varieties for the gut health but I’m really interested in how you keep them crispy. What I did last year did not have any crispness when we opened them.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,461 admin

    I use sour, plain kombucha added to my salt brine. Kombucha not only contains the tannin of tea, which help keep things crisp, but it also kickstarts and speeds up fermentation dramatically. The faster pickles ferment, the crisper they remain. You can also use whey, juice from sauerkraut, brine from a previous batch or water kefir. But, I find kombucha works best. Also, for cucumbers, be sure to cut off the flower end.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    @judsoncarroll4 I still love this idea!!!! I've never actually made pickles, but I totally want to try this one day.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Once I started adding a coupe of leaves that contain tannin my pickles are keeping very crispy. Just opened one from last summer and they are beautiful.

    grape leaves and raspberry leaves are the ones I use because they are readily available to me.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    I knew there had to be a way! Thanks so much! I have been using whey but I can definitely do kombucha. I can just put a regular rim and lid on after the active ferment stops and they stay shelf stable, right?

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,461 admin

    It is super easy, and fast - 4 days max at room temp for full ferment,, even for carrots. Then, they can go in the fridge to age and continue picking up flavors from herbs and spices, if you like. Last year, I kept a gallon jar on the counter of sour kombucha. All fresh veggies that I thought might taste good fermented, I just cut up and tossed in here with some salt. I started by pickling onions and garlic with dill, black pepper, dried chili pepper, mustard and clove. Next I did carrots and celery. Then cukes. Then beats. The beats turned everything dark purple, so next I did radishes and ginger and got a really neat, color. Everything went in there (even collard and broccoli stems) and I just dug out a big serving of mixed, pickled veggies every day. By the end of the season, it didn't look very appetizing..... the purples had browned... but it all still tasted great! The only thing I did separate was pickled hot peppers, because I didn't want everything to be super, fiery hot.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! For some reason, thinking about that purple veggie blend makes me think of that pickled, fermented cabbage blend they serve at fish shops in Honduras. Best I remember, it looked an awful lot like this curtido, so maybe that's what it was? https://www.fermentationrecipes.com/shredded-purple-curtido/1271 Anyway, it was DELISH.

  • lmrebert
    lmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

    @Owl I can attest for @judsoncarroll4 method with sour kombucha... I made pickles with my booch about... 🤔 8-10 months ago of which my son returned from Europe and found them in the frig.. all he said was “where did you get those pickles and they’re the best pickles I’ve ever had!” It’s so simple and a great way to get those probiotics!

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,461 admin

    @Merin Porter I've never tried that before, but it looks great - thanks!

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    My mom used to always include some grape leaves and a few green grapes (usually Mustang, wild ones). I didn't realize until years later why she did that. Last batch I made I actually put some black tea in the jar (no current access to wild grapes). It did not impact the flavor but it did keep them crisper.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I cannot abide a flimsy pickle. Good advice here. I'm gonna have to give it a try. My granny made excellent dill and sweet pickles. Been looking for some as good ever since.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    I’m with you! My grandmother had jars and jars lined up come fall and we would eat them all year. I did discover a wonderful pickled peaches recipe that I use for delicious peaches year around:

    1 prepare the peaches by peeling and pitting (or leave the pits if they are little)

    2 mix 1:1 apple cider vinegar and honey in a saucepan and heat to boiling

    3 prepare jars in the usual way and add your favorite spices, (I just add about 10 cloves)

    4 pour the hot mixture over the peaches and lid quickly

    You probably won’t find this in any canning book but, because of the honey & vinegar, they don’t spoil and are delicious for a year after canning. I haven’t had any last any longer than that because they are eaten up. I will probably be doing this one without heating the solution this year because I’ll have my own bee’s honey and I don’t want to kill the good stuff but the ACV probably will kill the enzymes anyway.

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    I line the bottom of my crock with grape leaves. Thanks for all the other ideas!

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    I've had really good luck with some of the heirloom pickles using grape leaves. Never been able to can them after and keep them crunchy, so we just enjoy them for the season. I was surprised to find that even the Lemon variety of cucumber makes a crisp pickle with the old Settlement Cook Book crock recipe.

  • DitaMallon
    DitaMallon Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    For several years now I've been using grape leaves for my dill pickles and black tea leaves for my sweet pickles. Both turn out crispy. And removing the blossom end is important and leaving just a little bit of stem is also important.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    Last year was the first year I have ever added grape leaves to the pickle jar. This year we will have to toss a few grapes in there as well.