I love cucumbers, and pickles! This recipe is reposted for my canning class that started up this week, as well as anyone who sees some fresh cucs in their garden, farmer’s market or store and wants to brush up their canning skills . . .
Costco has the crunchiest English style cucumbers that make great chips or spears. Their mini cucs make great whole pickles.
STEP 1 — Assemble (that means get all this stuff together on your kitchen countertops so you can find it at a moment’s notice):
1) 4 clean quart canning jars, preferably new, with new seals and rings. You can also choose 4 pint jars, and halve the recipe.
2) A canning pot that is at least 1 1/2″ taller than the canning jars and holds the 4 jars. Stock pots work great. You don’t necessarily have to get a canning pot, and hold off from getting a pressure cooker because you won’t need it unless you choose to can lots of low acid foods in the future such as vegetables and meats.
3) Something to lift hot things out of hot water — such as a canning lifter, a jar wrangler or pair of tongs, and a funnel. I highly recommend that you purchase a set of these, but you can get by with a good pair of tongs, hot pads and careful pouring.
4) 8 medium size cucumbers for pickling (since I don’t often see the pickling cucumbers in stores, just choose cucumbers around 5″ long, or the long burpless type, or those that haven’t overgrown and turned roundish and yellow).
5) A separate pot to heat the following ingredients:
— 1/2 c kosher or pickling salt (doesn’t include iodine, which discolors canned pickles)
— 3 c vinegar (best is distilled white vinegar with 5% acidity — it will say it on the label)
— 6 cups water
— 2 Tablespoons sugar (optional)
6) Also gather:
— 1 dill sprig or 1/2 dill head per quart jar. If you can’t find dill sprigs/heads then dill seeds will also work — about 1/2 teaspoon per quart jar.
— 1/2- 1 clove garlic per jar (if you like that in your pickles)
— 1/2 grape leaf per jar (if you have fresh available, otherwise it’s optional — helps retain pickle crunchiness).
7) One knife and cutting board. A bowl to heat the jar seals in, and hot water.
And you’re ready to start!
Rinse out the canning jars, removing lids and seals, fill with water and place only the glass jars in canning pot filled with water. Turn heat to high, put the top on, and when it starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium.
Combine salt, vinegar, sugar (optional) and water in a pot and turn to high. Stir to dissolve. When it starts to boil, turn to simmer until you’re ready to use it.
Wash cucumbers. Slice cucumbers into spears (longwise), chunks, or leave whole as desired.
In small bowl, lay 4 seals and pour hot water over them.The red ring of the seals will start to soften so that when you screw on the rings, the seal will lay tightly against the glass jar top. Next to the bowl that is simmering the salt/vinegar water, lay a folded cloth to act as the reception area for the jars as you’re filling them. Next to that, have the small bowl with seals ready with the tongs or jar wrangler.
Take a hot jar from the stock pot, pour out the water and drop in the dill, garlic and grape leaf.
Lay the jar on its side in the reception area (folded cloth). Quickly fill with pickles, and pack rather tightly, but remember that you’ll want to be able to get the pickles out later on so they shouldn’t be absolutely jammed in.
Set the jar upright, put the clean funnel at the top of the jar, and using a spoon or ladle,spoon in the hot simmering salt/vinegar water solution until it comes to within 1/4 inch of the top of the glass jar.
With tongs or jar wrangler,lift a hot lid out of the small bowl and place it on top of the filled jar. If anything has spilled on the jar rim other than liquid, it will need to be wiped away before putting on the seal.
Pick up a jar ring, and a pot holder or extra cloth to protect the hand that is holding onto the glass part of the jar, and screw the ring on hand tight. Don’t over tighten, and don’t put on too loosely.
Set the jar into the hot water bath, using the jar handler if you have one, like this, and continue Steps 6 – 11 until all jars are filled. The jars will be hot. To lift, place rubberized end at neck of jar, and hold together top black handles, not too tightly, not too loosely while lifting. It would be good to practice this move before lifting hot jars.
Make sure the water in the water bath covers the jars with 1/2 inch extra. A little more is fine as long as they are covered. Put the lid on and turn up the heat so that the water is slightly boiling. I sometimes put in sleeper jars, or a jar filled with water but not the pickles, etc. to take up space so my jars don’t tip as they are being heated. You’ll also notice that I need to add more hot water so that these jars are covered by at least 1/2 an inch.
Process for 20-5 minutes (which means let the jars sit, covered, in the boiling water). At the end of 20 minutes, (15 minutes at sea level) shut off the heat, take the jars out and set them back in the reception area.
The processing helps to force the air that is remaining in the jars out, and helps create a vacuum seal with the lid (hot air expands, cool air contracts). As the jars cool, you should hear a “ping” that indicates that each jar is sealing. Some ping right away, and others take a while. DO NOT push down on the “button” on the seal or you may have a false seal. Let it be!!
Once the jars are cool, you should have a sterile, properly canned jar of pickles. You can place them on a cool to room temperature shelf. If any of the jars don’t seal, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Use unsealed jars within a month.
Sealed jars remain good for a year or more. Always, before consuming a canned product, make sure the button/seal has not popped, and there is no mold or off smell. If there is, some bacteria has entered your product, and it should be discarded. This shouldn’t happen if you follow the instructions closely and make sure your jars and pickles are clean.
These pickles taste best after they have been sitting for at least 2 weeks, so don’t be temped to open them right away. Let the flavors blend and the salt sink in. The solution will penetrate cut cucumbers faster than whole, so wait a bit longer if you left your cucumbers whole.
The beauty of canning your own pickles is that you can adjust seasonings to suit your own palate. I think they are perfect the way they are (my family does too) but if you feel like your pickles are a little too salty, then pour out some of the water and add some fresh after you open the jar. If you are hankering for a little more vinegar, go ahead and add it. Then remember for your next batch. Store the “adjusted” pickles in the fridge for a month since they have been opened (if they last that long!).
No, I won’t say it. I won’t ask you, wasn’t that simple?