The Best Cucumbers To Use For The Crunchiest Pickles

Whether you're picking them up from the local farmer's market or growing them in your own backyard, it's peak cucumber season, which means pickle-making season. And for the pickle-lovers among us, that's reason to celebrate. Making your own pickles to preserve summer's bounty well into the colder months is easier than you might think, and starts with choosing the ideal cucumber variety (there are dozens, and not all are created equal). Enter Kirby cucumbers, the best variety for making a crunchy, briny pickle that rivals anything you'd find at the grocery store, and requires little more than some vinegar, salt, spices, and a mason jar to do so.

While it might not be the trending veggie of the moment on Tiktok, pickles have been a mainstay in our diets for centuries, with a rich culinary presence in everything from high-end restaurant menus to charcuterie boards to the accompaniment for a burger or deli sandwich. And while a store bought pickle gets the job done, nothing hits quite like the crunch and tang of a homemade pickle made from fresh Kirby cucumbers.

What are Kirby cucumbers and where to find them

Whether you prefer a pungent, half-sour classic dill or sweet bread and butter pickles, Kirby cucumbers — sometimes referred to as "pickling cucumbers" — are the ideal starting point, thanks to their petite size, bumpy skin, and firm texture that both absorbs the pickling brine and holds up well in the fermentation process. Of course, you can pickle any cucumber. But compared to common types like the garden variety slicing cukes found at most grocery stores, which can be covered in wax or have tough seeds or a watery texture, Kirby cucumbers are smaller and have a crunchier bite, thus lending themselves to an ideal pickle with crave-able crunch and flavor.

If you don't have the luxury of growing your own, hit up a local farmer's market if you can, where produce is fresh and in season, and your local farmer can steer you toward Kirby cukes or other varieties that make great pickles. While grocery store selections can be limited, your local store may offer Kirby cukes during the peak season when cucumbers are most plentiful. When in doubt, look for any variety marked as "pickling cucumbers" or any smaller-sized cucumbers that are firm and have a consistent shape and size perfect for fitting into a pickle jar. You'll be well on your way to making the freshest, crispest, crunchiest pickles on the block and giving your burgers, charcuterie boards, and salty snack cravings a serious upgrade.