Whether you prefer a sharp, semi-sour classic dill or sweet bread and butter pickles, Kirby cucumbers – sometimes referred to as “pickles” – are the ideal starting point, thanks to their small size, bumpy skin and firm texture that both absorbs the pickling layer and keeps well in the fermentation process. Of course, you can pickle any cucumber. But compared to regular types like the garden variety found in most grocery stores, which may be covered in wax or have tough seeds or a watery texture, Kirby cucumbers are smaller and have a crisper bite, making them ideal for a pickle with crave-able crunch and taste.
If you don’t have the luxury of growing your own, hit a local farmer’s market if you can, where the produce is fresh and in season, and your local farmer can steer you toward Kirby cukes or other varieties that make good pickles. While the grocery store’s selection may be limited, your local store may offer Kirby cukes during the peak season when cucumbers are most abundant. When in doubt, look for any variety marked “pickles” or smaller cucumbers that are firm and have a uniform shape and size perfect to fit into a pickle jar. You’ll be well on your way to making the freshest, crispiest, crunchiest pickles on the block and giving your burgers, charcuterie boards, and salty snack cravings a serious upgrade.