Cured Cucumber Pickles

By: The Local Palate
Cured cucumber pickles from a jar

Pickling and preserving is the name of the game at Cured in San Antonio, Texas. According to chef Steve McHugh, “a classic cucumber pickle is a great place to start your pickling adventure. Pickling liquid is basically seasoned vinegar-don’t discard it when you’re done with the pickles; have fun using it in recipes.”

“Always rinse your cucumbers, as this will eliminate any mold spores that could possibly ruin your finished product. Don’t use cucumbers that have been coated with wax—it will inhibit the vinegar from creating a proper pickle. Always use cucumbers as close to harvest as possible. Lastly, firmer cucumbers are better-that’s why I prefer the small, firm, and nubby pickling varieties of cucumber. Avoid any that have blemishes or have become soft.”

Note: begin this recipe at least one day prior to serving.

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Makes 1 quart

    For the pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 10 whole bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • For the cucumber pickles
  • 3 to 5 pickling cucumbers (1 to 1½ pounds), each cut lengthwise into 4 spears
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dill seeds
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling spice (you can also use store-bought)

Make the Pickling Spice

  1. Toast the peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, allspice, and caraway in a dry sauté pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Allow the spices to cool before combining with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and ground ginger in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Make the Cucumber Pickles

  1. Put the cucumbers and dill in a quart glass jar or other nonreactive container.
  2. To make the brine, combine the salt, dill seeds, vinegar, pickling spice, and 1 cup of water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil until the salt dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the hot brine into the jar, making sure the cucumbers are completely covered with brine. (You may have leftover brine, depending on the size of the cucumbers.) Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Cover the jar and refrigerate for 24 hours before enjoying. Cucumbers pickled in this manner will last for about 2 months in the refrigerator, but they will lose crunch as time goes on.

  • Adapted from
    ​​Reprinted with permission from Cured by Steve McHugh & Paula Forbes, copyright © 2024. Photographs by Denny Culbert. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
  • Contributing City
    San Antonio

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