If you have a taste for pickles, you’ve probably noticed the many distinct types of cucumbers used to make pickles. Some are huge and are cut into thin slices or rounds, while others are tiny and are preserved intact in pickling brine.
True “pickling” cucumbers are distinct from heirlooms, slicers, and Japanese cukes, although just about any kind of cucumber may be used for pickling. How do you produce pickled cucumbers, and what exactly is a pickling cucumber?
To pickle what, exactly, is a cucumber?
In this context, “cucumbers for pickling” means cucumbers intended for use in pickling or other food preparation. You may still eat them fresh, but their thin skins, crisp texture, and little seeds make them perfect for pickling. Because of their diminutive proportions, very little preparation is required.
Pickling cucumbers are short and vary in color from dark green at the stem to a lighter green at the blossom end.
Cucumbers used for pickling
Tendrils on cucumber plants are strong enough to cling to trellises and fences. Though certain types of cucumbers may quickly take over a garden, newer cultivars have lower vine lengths, making them suitable for even the smallest of plots.
Picklers such as the Calypso, Royal, and H-19 Little Leaf reach a maximum size of around 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m). If the size appears excessive, you may teach the vine to double back on itself.
If you’re short on square footage, you may also think about growing pickled cucumbers vertically. Popular varieties of pickled cucumbers include Pickalot and National Pickling.
A Guide to Cultivating Pickles
Whether used for pickling or not, cucumbers are prolific growers. Pickling cucumbers may be harvested continuously for up to a few weeks after they are ready to be plucked (usually between 50 and 65 days after planting).
A pickling cucumber plant’s cultivation is similar to that of any other cucumber plant. Soil with a pH of 5.5, good drainage, and enough nitrogen is ideal. You may either make rows or make hills with your plants.
The seeds should be sown approximately 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) deep, and the soil should be barely covered. Put the seeds in rows spaced about eight centimeters apart (or a few inches), then plant four or five seeds on each hill.
When the seedlings on the hill have developed their first set of genuine leaves, you should pick out the best two to grow on. Maintain a wet bed by watering the seeds. Cucumbers need a high-nitrogen fertilizer due to their high nutrient demands.
A balanced fertilizer should be used once flowering has begun. Applying fertilizer and side dressing consistently can go far toward encouraging a bountiful harvest.
Remember to water the plants regularly. Get in the habit of daily probing the soil with a finger. The plants need a lengthy, thorough watering if the soil is dry. Being mostly water, cucumbers need regular irrigation to produce crisp, juicy fruit.
Managing a Pest: What to Do When One Appears
The cucumber beetle, which may be spotted or striped and is just about an eighth of an inch long, is the biggest threat to cucumbers. Cultivated cucurbits like cucumbers, squashes, and melons give out a perfume called cucurbitacins, which entices this pest.
Beetles’ larvae eat roots, while the adults snack on blossoms and leaves. The beetles may also spread a bacterial wilt disease, which prevents water from reaching the plant’s roots. Cucumbers are particularly vulnerable to fatal bacterial wilt that may strike at any time. The infected plants will wilt and die in a matter of days.
A small number of cucumber beetles in the garden is not always indicative of the presence of bacterial wilt. In order for the beetle to spread the illness, it must first acquire the bacteria, which it typically does via weeds that may or may not have the disease’s symptoms.
However, if the cucumber beetle is present, wilt is a real possibility.
The striped cucumber bug may cause significant harm to young plants. A plant’s ability to withstand harm to its foliage greatly increases after it has established at least three pairs of genuine leaves.
Using a polyester row cover to shield young plants from cucumber beetles is a good idea, but taking the cover off at some point will allow bees and other pollinators access to the blooms.
3 of the Best Pickling Cucumbers to Grow
The following are the 3 best pickling cucumbers to grow in your garden:
The original of this hybrid was created in 1877, yet it matures just as quickly as newer varieties.
It takes 55 days after planting for the plant to bear tasty, fragile fruits with black spines.
Pick regularly, and this plant will provide an abundance of bright green fruits with blunt ends, perfect for canning or preserving in any way you see fit.
I recommend cultivating only a few ‘Boston Pickling’ plants at a time if you have a small household or aren’t planning to store the crop for an extended period of time.
Due to their rapid development, they may be planted for a second harvest in late summer or early fall. Please keep in mind that in cooler air and soil temperatures, their growth and flowering will be slightly stunted.
These little heirloom cucumbers were first developed by the Boothby family of Livermore, Maine.
The fruits have a salt-and-pepper look thanks to their creamy, off-white skin, which is prickled with black. They are ready for harvest 55–65 days after planting.
Get them when they’re four inches tall for home canning. You don’t even have to peel them until they’re seven inches long and still have a terrific flavor for fresh eating.
The vines produced by this variety may reach lengths of over 6 feet, yet the plants thrive when kept in pots.
Bread and butter pickles are a great way to preserve the crop. They are perfect for soaking up the savory and sweet flavors of that classic dish.
Because of their age, these plants are less resistant to disease than hybrids. Allow lots of room for the plants to spread out, and provide trellises for them to climb.
The prevalent disease powdery mildew may be prevented by providing adequate airflow to the plants.
The hybrid cultivar ‘Burpee Pickler‘ was created by Burpee. This early-maturing vining kind is capable of producing large quantities of three- to five-inch cucumbers in just 53 days.
The pale green, uniformly shaped fruits have few, tiny seeds and thin, disease-resistant skin, and they are very resistant to cucumber mosaic virus.
The vines, which may reach heights of eight feet, perform best when trained around a support structure like a fence or trellis.
Extracting some of the water from pickler cucumbers is necessary to prevent sogginess in dishes. Get a colander ready by peeling and slicing the cucumbers into the desired shape before salting them.
Drain them for half an hour and pat them dry, squeezing any grated ones first. Then, continue with the recipe. Don’t add any more salt to the cucumber dishes until you’ve tasted them after doing this.