A simple to follow tutorial for how to make your own bottled gherkins! Make the most of that summer harvest and enjoy homemade dill pickles all year round!
Update September 2020: I now exclusively use the water bath method for canning/bottling everything as an extra layer of food safety. I will be updating instructions over the next few months to share how I do that. I have never had any problems bottling them this way but now prefer the water bath method in terms of ease and having a higher success rate with jars sealing. Laura
In my experience, there is no fence sitting in the gherkin debate. You either love them or hate them. While Josh falls very firmly into the haters category I am a 'can't get enough - eat them whole out of the jar - put them with everything' - true gherkin lover! So of course when I found out I could grow them and pickle my own it had to be done.
A couple of years ago I tried. I bought 1 gherkin plant and planted it in a spot that just happened to miss the part of the garden that was watered. I ended up with a very sad looking plant and about 3 gherkins to show for my efforts. Fail.
This year I planned ahead. I planted 8 seeds, reserved a spot up a trellis smack bang in the middle of our big vege garden and ended up with a gherkin forest and kilos of gherkins from 8 epic plants!
I spent ages on the internet trying to find a recipe to pickle gherkins and in the end gave up. They had long lists of ingredients and some of them even said to brine the gherkins for 7 days. 7 DAYS!! I don't know about you but when I'm pickling stuff I don't have 7 days to wait. I also don't have the bench space to leave a tub of brining pickles sitting around for 7 days. So I made up a recipe. I still brined (is that even a word) the gherkins, but only for a few hours. Much more like it!
I made a couple of different batches of gherkins as I didn't know how they would turn out. In some I added pickling spice and some I left plain. I wasn't sure about the flavour of the pickling spice to begin with, but it definitely grew on me and after eating some of the plain gherkins, I decided that I prefered the ones with the spice - they are a little different than the ones you buy but I think the spice added something special.
It's a bit of a long process so if you know what you're doing feel free to skip to the recipe, otherwise here are the step-by-step instructions.
Wash the gherkins, rub off the spiky bits and pat them dry with a paper towel. Trim the gherkins at both ends, put in a clean bowl, sprinkle them with salt (not iodised) and store in a cool place until the salt has liquidized.
When you're just about ready to go, make up your bottling liquid. Just add water and vinegar to a large pot and bring it to the boil.
Rinse the gherkins with boiling water, drain and then rinse again.
Pack the gherkins into hot jars that have been sterilized. To sterilise the jars I run them through the dishwasher. That way they are still hot when you go to use them. If you are only using a few jars though, wash them thoroughly and keep them filled with hot water until you are ready to use them. At this point I also added the pickling spice and fresh dill.
Fill the jars almost to the top with the water/vinegar liquid and run a knife around inside the jar to get rid of any air bubbles. Top up the jar with liquid until it is just overflowing and using a cloth (as the jars will be very hot) tightly screw on the lids.
Wipe down the jars and leave to cool on the bench.
Leave the jars for a couple of weeks to pickle away and put them in the fridge to cool down before opening. These are best eaten on a burger, on crackers, in a sandwich or just straight out of the jar. YUM!
- 1 kg gherkins
- ¼ cup plain salt not iodised
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- Pickling spice (about 1 teaspoon per jar)
- Fresh dill (a couple of sprigs per jar)
- Wash, pat dry and trim the gherkins at both ends, then place them in a large clean bowl, sprinkle on the salt and store in a cool place until the salt has liquidized (a few hours)
- When you are ready to go, bring to the boil the water and vinegar.
- Rinse the gherkins with boiling water, drain and then rinse again. Put the gherkins into hot jars that have been sterilized and add pickling spice and fresh dill.
- Fill the jars almost to the top with the water/vinegar liquid and run a knife around inside the jar to get rid of any air bubbles. Top up the jar with liquid until it is just overflowing and using a cloth (as the jars will be very hot) tightly screw on the lids.
- Wipe down the jars and leave to cool on the bench.
- Gherkins will be ready in around three weeks. Put the jar in the fridge for a few hours to cool before eating.
Great recipe but why do you say " salt (not iodised) " ? Kiwi soils are low in iodine so not much can be taken up by our plants/veg. It's needed for our bodily health. So easy to get it using iodised salt, no fuss at all 🙂
Hi Neil, I use iodised salt for everything else but when it comes to preserving, the iodine can actually discolour the preserves, which is why almost all preserving recipes will call for plain salt.
Great! thanks for the info. I'll get bulk plain salt for my pickling 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. Just made my first jar with spray free gherkins I picked myself from a farm. Just used the spice mix, dill and garlic.
A friend just made me paranoid about botulism however 😬 so just trying to research that. You’ve never had problems like that? I can see a few micro bubbles too inside the jar on the vegetables. Is that normal? Thanks 🙏 I was really proud of my jar too until now 🥺
Hi Adso, I actually water bath my pickles now too, just for 10 minutes to remove any risk of botulism. However, use your senses and you will be fine. As long as the jar has sealed properly, they should be safe. However, if you open it and looks, smells or tastes strange, biff them!
Love your recipe. I've used it for the last few years & they're delicious everytime. I usually get my gerkin supply from a local market gardener but this year tried growing my own......well let's just say they are now sandwich stackers! Opps didn't check the garden for nearly 2 days & my lovely wee gerkins turned into little cucumbers! I've bottled them tonight so will see how they turn out 😊
I have just opened the jar of pickled gherkins made with your recipe about 3 weeks ago. The jar popped and the liquid fizzed vigorously on opening. Everything smelled good and I have tasted one which was crunchy and delicious. I am hesitating to try more as I’m not sure the liquid was supposed to fizz. I’d love to know your opinion.
Hi Sue! Oooo yikes, it definitely isn't supposed to fizz!! Did you use a new jar and seal (such as a Ball or Agee jar) or old jam jars? Laura
The fizzing is fine and happens when there is pressure. But the biggest tests are appearance, smell, and then taste. I think if it tasted fine all the others will be too. 🙂
Hi Sue. It may have been fermenting, Sauerkraut is just cabbage and a tiny bit of salt (2%) Gas is given off when fermenting so usually you have an airlock to allow it to escape and prevent mould getting in. Cucumbers aren't great candidates for fermenting as they can go a bit soft, but maybe the vinegar helped keep them firm. Fermenting is a great way to preserve foods and has been done for thousands of years. i.e kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yoghurt, sourdough, miso, kimchi, various vegetables etc.
Nice easy recipe no faffing about love it !
I've been pickling gherkins for the first time this year. I soak them in brine overnight in their pickling jar. Pour out the brine, pour in a boiling 50/50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Add black and yellow mustard seeds, some salt, dill and peeled garlic then screw on the top and put the jar in boiling water for 30-40 minutes. I've also started to add some whole red chillies I grew and dried last year. I'll look out for some pickling spice at the shops. Had no idea it was a thing. Looking forward to trying them out.
How long do they keep for before going off?
If the jars seal properly, they will keep almost indefinitely but I work on preserved goods being at their best in the first 2 years. Laura
Hallo Laura. Will the colour of the gherkins remain green after you rinse them with boiling water?
Hi Anthony, yes they should hold their colour
What pickling spice
It's a spice blend that you can buy from the supermarket in the herbs and spices section
Peter Hjelmqvist says
Found this 🙂
Priscilla Barnard says
I have just been given a bag of these home grown. I found your site and the recipe is so easy. I have started already. Hope they turn out like yours.
Amanda Medler says
You dont process yours in a hot water bath?
Hi Amanda. When I published this recipe I had never heard of water bath canning however over the last couple of years I have started using the method and it is now my prefered method so I am slowly going through and updating the recipes that don't use the method to include it! Laura
Laura Godfrey says
Tha is for the recipes 🙂 If we use the water bath method for these, do we just leave a space at the top of jar and boil on water bath for 10-20mins? Have you tried water bathing these?
Hi! Yes, that's exactly what I do now, water bath for 10 minutes!
Victoria Lucas says
Hi there, can I slice the gherkins before putting the salt on? As they will need to be sliced to fit in our jars 🙃 sorry if it's a silly question....I'm new to this lark x Love Victoria
Hi Victoria, yes absolutely! Laura
ANNE Marshall says
Do you store in fridge or can they be left out ?
Hi Anne, unopened the jars can be stored at room temperature, once opened they need to be refrigerated. Laura
georgie b says
hi, cant wait to try your pickling gerkin version, tomorrow i will try the vanilla cake, hmmm, pigs, are they as smelly free range?, i am working up courage to do our own meat birds, good luck with your wedding plans, has your summer heat kicked off yet, cheers from georgie
Thanks Georgie! Our pigs have the run of a whole paddock and they are not smelly one little bit! We love letting them and the chooks run around together and it's the best thing knowing where our food is coming from. These gherkins are one of my favourite things! Starting to warm up here a bit...it's the perfect temperature at the moment...not too hot! Have a great weekend 🙂
Lucy @ Bake Play Smile says
I'm definitely pro-gherkin!! What a great recipe. I have never ever thought to bottle my own. You really are one clever little chicky. Thanks for linking up with Fabulous Foodie Fridays! Have a great weekend xx
Thanks so much Lucy! I didn't even know we could grow them here so I was super excited when I figured I could also bottle them myself. So good! Have a great weekend 🙂
Lisa @ Chocolate Meets Strawberry says
I don't actually like gherkins but this recipe is making me change my mind! I would imagine that homemade tastes a million times better than storebought, so I probably don't like them because of all the yuckiness they put in there. Well done on your gardening, too! It's even more impressive to know you made this recipe with gherkins you grew yourself. You go girl!
Thanks so much Lisa! It is definitely so much more satisfying being able to do it with home grown produce. I am yet to convince my gherkin hating partner to try these but I can promise they are much better than the bought ones!
YUM! Defs in the loving gherkins camp. Never made my own though, go you! Bec #fff
Thanks Bec! Yay gherkin lovers!