Quick Cucumber Pickles

Kate Walsh |

From Real Food Projects

Whenever I see kirby cucumbers at my greengrocer, I always buy a few kilos because they are hands-down the best cucumbers for this recipe. They are about 7–10 cm (23/4–4 inches) long, with a ridged skin and uneven green colour. They are an ugly fruit, but make an excellent pickle because they stay crunchy due to their lower water content and thick, rough skin. Ask your greengrocer to order you some in summer if you can’t find any. 

You could also use small Lebanese (short) cucumbers for these pickles, but it is a good idea to slice them and salt them overnight to extract as much water as possible, so they don’t become soft in the brine. 


Approximately 4 x pint / 16oz / 440ml jars 


4 medium sterilised jars with lids

sharp knife

small saucepan

measuring spoons

paper towel

You’ll need

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) kirby cucumbers, or salted and rinsed small Lebanese (short) cucumbers 

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) apple cider vinegar

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water

2 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 garlic cloves

2 sprigs fresh dill

2 small red chillies (optional)


1. Prepare the jars: Sterilise the jars and lids and keep the jars and lids warm until you are ready to use them. 

2. Wash and slice the cucumbers: Wash and dry the cucumbers, being sure to remove any stems or flowers. Either slice the cucumbers into batons, making sure they are the right length to stand up in your jars, or slice them into rounds; you can also leave them whole, if you like. 

3. Heat your brine: Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. When the salt has dissolved, take off the heat. 

4. Pack the jars: Divide your peppercorns, garlic, dill and chilli, if using, among your hot jars, then pack the cucumbers in tightly. Pour your warm vinegar mixture into the warm jars, leaving 1 cm (1/2 inch) at the top of each jar. Both the liquid and the jars need to be warm to ensure that the lids seal properly. Also, make sure your cucumbers are completely submerged; if they aren’t, you can lay one cucumber baton or slice flat across the top, to push them down. Tap gently to make sure there are no air bubbles. 

5. Seal and cool: Using paper towel, wipe the rims clean. Screw the lids on and leave until cool. 

6. Eat or store: Leave for 2 weeks before eating, or store for up to 6 months. 


1/ Serve on the side of a classic American hamburger.

2/ Add to a tuna sandwich layered with a healthy amount of good mayonnaise. 

3/ Great with Wok-smoked fish (page XXX).

4/ Chop finely and fold through a creamy potato salad.