Sterilising jars and equipment
Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water, rinse, then place on a baking tray and put in a low oven for 10 mins or until completely dry. If you want to use rubber seals, remove the seals and cover in just-boiled water. Make sure you sterilise any funnels, ladles or spoons you’re going to be using too. All equipment must be sparklingly clean before you begin, to eliminate bacteria or yeasts from the equation.
Choose the right vinegar
For pickles to last in the jar, the vinegar must be 6% acidity. White wine and malt vinegars are 6%, but cider vinegar has slightly lower acidity, so is more suitable for chutneys.
Choose the right salt
Do not use table salt for pickling, as the anti-caking agents can give a cloudy, discoloured result. Look for either coarse crystal or coarse grain salt.
Cover the veg
Allow a few centimetres of space at the top of the jar and make sure the vegetables are well-covered in vinegar. A pestle or the end of a rolling pin is ideal for pushing the veg down into the vinegar.
Storing the pickles
When salted or brined and pickled, and kept in a cool, dark place, these pickles should last, unopened, for several months. Softer vegetables, such as beans and cucumbers, are most likely to go soggy sooner, as they are the most watery.
Cut the pickling or ridged cucumbers into sticks or slices. Layer with the coarse crystal sea salt in a large bowl, cover and leave overnight. Drain away the brine, then rinse.
To make the pickling vinegar, put the whole spices in a medium saucepan. Toast over a low heat until they begin to smell aromatic. Add the dried chilli flakes last, as these can easily catch. Add the bay, pour in all of the vinegar and sugar, let it dissolve, and bring to a simmer. Add the dill sprigs.
Pack the cucumber into jars, pour over the hot vinegar and seal. Ready to eat in 2 weeks, or longer, if you like.