We’ve gone over the process, methods, and science of pickling fresh produce, and if you’re ready to take the leap and start making your own pickles, you won’t regret it. First things first though, stock up on the pickling equipment, and ingredients you need to get started. Starting with the most obvious: Jars.
There are a few things to consider before getting jars. Mainly size which would depend on how much you intend to pickle and how much you intend to eat them. Another factor you might want to consider is getting amber jars. Amber jars are made by adding nickel, sulfur, and carbon to sand as it’s heated and shaped which gives it a dark, amber hue. It blocks blue light and all other light wavelengths under 450 nm. This makes it ideal for storing light-sensitive products.
This isn’t particularly essential when you’re pickling because pickles use acid, vacuum sealing, as well as other physical and chemical methods to prevent microbial growth, but it’s incredibly helpful once you start fermenting food. Check out these Ball Amber Jars or if you prefer the classics Ball also makes a great Classic Mason Jar ideal for pickling. If you’re not quite sure about size, this variety pack of Mason Jars comes in a large and smaller size for all your pickling needs.
A canning funnel doesn’t is a wide-mouthed funnel that lets you directly pour produce and pickling liquid into a jar one after the other more conveniently. They’re also great for other preserves like jams and jellies. This Stainless Steel Canning Funnel with a Strainer is good for saving brines and oils from pre-canned produce like olives. If for some reason you’re against using stainless steel or prefer something more ergonomic, try these Flexible Silicone Collapsible Kitchen Funnels.
A lid lifter is a small pen with a magnet at the end that lets you pick and place jar lids without touching them. A lid lifter is good for two things: For the most part, it helps you pick lids out of boiling water (used to sterilize canning lids) and to avoid using your hands as much as possible to maintain a sterile environment. This Four Piece Lid Lifter will ensure you’ll always have a backup after inevitably losing one.
Jar lifters are a more essential part of your pickling equipment especially when you’re canning for the long run. They’re silicon-lined tongs that let you pull pickles out of a boiling water bath when you’re vacuum sealing jars. Ball makes equipment for pretty much every aspect of canning and pickling even this Secure-Grip Jar Lifter. If that’s slightly above your jar lifter budget, try this Waterluu Canning Jar Lifter.
Bubbles poppers are used to let out any excess air that may be inside the jar. While this can be done with almost any piece of cutlery, this tool doubles as a device that lets you measure headspace on your pickle jars. There should be at least ½ an inch of headspace left then you jar produce so that you can make a sufficient vacuum seal after giving it a water bath. De-bubbles are cheap and cheerful like this Norpro Canning Bubble Popper & Measurer. You can kill two birds with one stone by getting this 4 Piece Bubble Popper & Magnetic Lid Lifter Set.
Jar wrenches are used to officially seal jars after they’ve been given a boiling water bath. This improves the seal on the jar of pickles to ensure no microbes can slip in freely. It also serves as a means of opening sealed pickle jars for the frailer man, woman, or child. This Norpro 598 Jar Wrench comes in a variety of colors and you can buy them in a set of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Personally, I prefer this Two Piece Multi-Purpose Lid Wrench & Opener.
Distilled vinegar is one of the most popular vinegar on the market for pickling today both commercially and domestically because of its natural flavor and low price. By no means does that mean you can’t extend your search for the perfect combination of vinegar using things like balsamic (great for pickled onions), malt vinegar (amazing for pickling eggs), and cider vinegar (good for a number of pickled produce). Buying distilled vinegar online makes sense because you ought to buy it in bulk anyway, especially if you intend to pickles more often. Try this 2 Gallon Multi-Pack of Heinz Distilled Vinegar, useful for a lot more than just pickling. Malt vinegar is one of my top contenders when it comes to making my own pickles so I’ll be damned if I don’t throw that into the mix with 4 Gallons of Heinz Gourmet Malt Vinegar.
It’s not a necessity, although people like to use it to keep their pickle brine as clear as possible. The anti-caking agents and additives (such as potassium iodide) that are added to a lot of salts are not present in pickling salt to leave it as pure as possible. Check out this 32 Oz Pack of Ball Pickling Salt. While pickling salt can make it seem more official (and it definitely has its perks) as mentioned before, it’s not a necessity. As long as you have pure, untreated salt to add. Kosher salt is a close next contender for canning homemade pickles.
If you’re totally new to pickling and don’t yet have any of these dandy tools, invest in an already complete pickling set. I’d buy some extra jars along with it, but it’s a great start. This Norpro Pickling Essentials Set is a good start, although it doesn’t come with any jars. This Premium Canning Kit is a little more pricey but comes with more sturdy tools.