Upgrade Pickles By Spiral Cutting Your Cucumber

Want to make the perfect home made pickles? Then you've got to try spiral-cutting them before steeping them in vinegar and pickling spices. This easy preparation technique will transform classic cukes into corkscrew-shaped, juicy beauties that make the perfect topping for hotdogs and a hearty, textured filling for meat-based sandwiches.

Cutting your cucumbers into spiral shapes before submerging them in vinegar and seasonings has several benefits. Firstly, it increases the surface area of your cukes by revealing as much of their watery center as possible, unlike classic spears or chunks cut into batons. This allows them to soak up the flavor of the vinegar and pickling spices that they're steeped in more effectively, resulting in a juicier center. Secondly, a spiral-shaped pickle simply looks uber-appetizing; there's something fun about taking a regular old vegetable and preparing it in a new and interesting way to make it more inviting. Better yet, the long shape of each cuke means you can lay one over the entire length of a hot dog in single move instead of balancing several disc-shaped bread and butter pickles over your sausage. Why not experiment a little by coating your corkscrew cukes in a wet batter and deep frying them to make tart but crispy pickle chips that look like tornado potatoes?

Use chopsticks to make spiral cucumbers

Washed and dried Kirby or Persian cucumbers are ideal for spiral cutting because they have a dense texture that isn't too watery, which means they can withstand the potency of an intense pickling liquor without losing that appetizing snap. Plus, they're petite enough to fit in a pickling jar. However, longer varieties of cucumber are viable alternatives too because you can snake them inside the circumference of your jar once sliced by stretching them out like an accordion.

To get started, place your cucumber of choice on your cutting board horizontally and position a chopstick along the top and bottom edge (imagine your cuke is sitting between two train tracks). Use a sharp knife to cut shallow slices into the flesh that don't go all the way through it — the chopsticks will stop your knife from cutting straight down onto the board, as seen in our spicy Korean cucumber salad recipe. Turn the cucumber over and make shallow diagonal cuts all the way across its length. At this point you should be able to pick it up and stretch it out gently, like a slinky. Finally, place it in a clean jar and top with vinegar, seasonings and spices to make the perfect homemade pickles.

If all this sounds like too much work, try chopping your cucumbers into irregular shaped pieces and gently smashing them with a rolling pin before pickling. The craggy surfaces of the cukes will readily imbibe the pickle juice, creating an exciting texture and flavor.