When pickling whole cucumbers, take a thin slice off the blossom end to help keep the pickles crisp.
This recipe works with pickling cucumbers and most other vegetables (carrots, beans, asparagus, beets) that you might want to pickle. Use fresh cucumbers, no more than 4 inches long. Lightly scrub and remove about 1/8 inch from the blossom end. Larger cukes can be quartered or sliced. Peel carrots and cut into ½-inch-wide, 4-inch-long sticks. Cook beets and peel before placing in jars. Quantities are estimates since the size of the vegetables will determine how many it takes to fill a jar and the amount of brine required.
It is important to have the jars really hot at the time of filling to allow the canner to come back to the boil quickly, and prevent cracking from thermal shock. Place clean jars containing ½ inch of water in the oven on a cookie sheet at 275°F. Remove them from the oven one at a time, fill with vegetables, and return to the oven until you have enough jars to process in the hot-water bath.
Makes approximately 7 pint (500 ml) jars
- 6 cups water
- 3 cups white vinegar
- ¼ cup pickling salt
- 2 tsp sugar or honey (optional)
- 7 small bunches fresh dill or 3½ tsp dill seed
- 7 small cloves of garlic
- Pickling spices (whole peppercorns, hot pepper flakes, etc.) to taste
- 4 qt pickling cucumbers, or about 6 lb (3 kg) carrots, or 3 qt beans
- Bring water, vinegar, pickling salt and sugar to a boil.
- Place jars in a 275°F oven to warm. Remove one jar at a time from the oven.
- Place a bunch of dill, a clove of garlic, and pickling spices in each jar.
- Tightly pack vegetables in jar to within 1 inch of jar rim.
- Return jar to the oven to keep warm.
- When you have all jars filled, ladle boiling brine over vegetables, leaving ½ inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles.
- Close all jars finger-tight and process in boiling-water-bath canner for 10 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for quarts.
- Remove immediately and let stand until lids “pop” down.
- After 24 hours, check seals by pressing on the tops of jars.
- If any lids spring back when pressed down, they are not properly sealed.
- Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use within 3 weeks.
- Label your pickles, including date, and store in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
- At this point, jar rings can be removed and reused.
- Canning is an all-season activity. Plan to can local organic produce in season, but save easily stored produce for the fall and winter.
- Vinegar must be at least 5 per cent acetic acid for food safety.
- Wear rubber-lined dishwashing gloves to protect your hands from steam and provide a better grip than oven mitts.
- A teaspoon of vinegar in the canner will prevent a hard-water film on the jars.
- When preparing jars and lids, prepare a few extra in case your yield is greater than you expect.
- Processing time is always measured from the time the water returns to the boil.
- When pickling whole cucumbers, take a thin slice off the blossom end to help keep the pickles crisp.
- To peel large amounts of garlic, separate the cloves and blanch them in boiling water for 60 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Drain immediately and peel. This also works for small onions.
- The sugar in jams and jellies is required for a good “set.” Sugar in pickles, chutneys and salsa is to taste. Sugar in canned fruit is to maintain a firm texture.
- Rhubarb, berries, cherries and currants can easily be frozen and made into jams and spreads when you have more time.
- Slightly underripe fruit contains the most pectin.
- Experiment with different types of vinegar or add spices (peppercorns, hot chilies, bay leaves, mustard seeds) to create your own special pickles.
- Safe food handling training available online at www.ingoodhands.ca
- Find many useful tips and reliable information online at National Centre for Home Food Preservation