How to Can Dill Pickles

A pickle is a cucumber preserved in a vinegar, water, and salt solution. Water bath canning makes your pickles shelf stable so you can enjoy them all winter. Come into my kitchen with me and let me show you how to can dill pickles.

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What you will need:

Water bath canner – Because of the acidity in the vinegar brine, pickles are processed in a water bath canner. You can find a canner online or in your local grocery store.

Canning tools – Your canning tools consist of jar grabber, debubbler, headspace measuring stick. Buy them in a set online or in the canning section at your local grocery store.

Cucumbers – Whether you grow them or buy them from a local farmer, you need fresh cucumbers. We will talk about the type of cucumbers to use for canning in a few minutes.

If you are buying your cucumbers from a market, on average, you need 1 pound of cucumbers for every pint and 2 pounds for every quart. This will vary according to if you are packing sliced, whole, or spears into the jars.

Fresh Garlic – You will need fresh peeled garlic cloves. 2 cloves per quart.

Dill – Fresh dill is the best to use in canning. Hopefully you have it growing in your garden, or you can find it at your local farmer’s market. If you cannot find fresh, you can always use dill seed at 1 tsp. per pint.

5% white vinegar – make sure the vinegar you buy says 5% acidity for canning safety.

Canning jars and lids – Buy the glass jars that are made specifically for canning. My favorite lids are Superb lids and I buy them from Lehmans.com

What kind of cucumbers?

While you can use any type of cucumber to make pickles there are a few differences in the varieties to take into consideration.

Slicing cucumber: A slicing cucumber is what you usually find in the produce section at the grocery store. They are long, thicker-skinned cucumbers used in salads or fresh eating as a snack. Slicing cucumbers have bigger seeds and more water content than pickling cucumbers. Some varieties are Burpless, or Marketmore.

Pickling cucumber: Pickling cucumbers are bred to grow short and round with thin, bumpy skin. They have drier flesh and smaller seeds which make them great for canning pickles. Several varieties are Boston, National, and Chicago Pickling Cucumber.

Are the Pickles Crunchy?

The short answer is no. I have never had a crunchy home canned pickle. All of the pickles that I have ever canned are firm yet slightly soft. Let’s go over a few methods that some say help you get a firmer possibly crunchy pickle.

Pick the cucumbers when they are smaller. In a perfect world you pick the cucumbers at 3-4 inches max. Check cucumbers daily, and especially after a good rain. The bigger the cucumber the larger the seeds which results in a softer pickle.

Cut off the blossom end. The blossom end and the stem have enzymes that break down the cucumbers faster. Trim off both ends before placing the cucumbers in the jar.

Harvest in the morning. The idea is that harvesting in the cool of the morning the cucumbers have not been in the hot sun all day, so they are cool and firmer.

Can them right away. Plan to water bath can your cucumbers after you harvest them. The cucumbers will not have a chance to wilt and become rubbery. If you must wait, you can soak your cucumbers in cold water in the fridge for up to 1 day.

I do worry about placing cold cucumbers in the glass canning jar which would cause the jars to become cold. Then pouring the hot brine over the cucumbers could possibly cause the jar to break. I would drain the cucumbers and allow them to come to room temperature before packing them in the jars.

Babysit your canner. Sometimes you can get distracted by other tasks while you are waiting for your canner to come to a full boil and forget about your pickles. Then you don’t know how long the water has been boiling so you end up overcooking the pickles and they are too soft. So, keep an eye on your water so you don’t over process your pickles.

Use pickle crisp. Pickle crisp is a product made from calcium chloride. You add this product to the brine of the pickles. It is supposed to make your pickles crisp and firm.

I have never used this product and probably never will, but it is available in the canning section at most grocery stores if you want to give it a try. Let me know in the comments if you use it and if your pickles are crisp and firm.

How to Can Dill Pickles

Fill your water bath canner halfway full of water and place it on the stove on medium low heat with the lid on. I put a splash of white vinegar in my canner water to prevent calcium build up on the jars.

Wash the necessary number of canning jars and lids.

Wash the cucumbers and slice them either into coins, spears, or leave them whole. Pack them into the glass jars.

Peel the garlic. Place two cloves into each jar (per quart).

Rinse the dill and place two or three sprigs and one dill flower head into the jars of cucumbers. Set aside the jars to make the brine.

Make the Brine

Now that you know how many jars you are using you, you can make the correct amount of brine.

This is the brine for one quart of pickles: 1 cup of water, 3/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tbsp. of sea salt, and 1 tsp. honey.

If you are using pints, the brine above would be for two pints.

Brine is tricky. I say it is for one quart of pickles, but you will soon find that there are many variables that can change the exact amount you need. If you sliced your cucumbers and packed the jar, the amount comes out exact, but if you can whole cucumbers or spears the amount of brine needed may change.

Pour the brine ingredients into a saucepan on medium high heat. You want the brine to be hot but not boiling.

You can adjust the amount of brine to how many jars you are going to can. I never seem to have the correct number of pounds of cucumbers, so I go by how many jars I am canning. It works great and like i said above for the most part it is pretty spot on.

I use honey in the brine because it cuts the acidity of the vinegar. You can leave the honey out if you like or you can add more honey if the brine is still too tart for your taste.

Fill the Jars

Now that the brine is hot and the jars are packed it is time to ladle the brine into the jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.

Once the jars are filled, debubble your jars by placing the debubbler into the jar around the sides of the jar. You will see bubbles rise to the top of the jar. Push the cucumbers back into place and adjust the headspace by adding more brine if needed.

Wipe the rims of the jar with a washcloth, place the canning lid and rings (finger tight) onto the jars.

Use the jar lifter to place the jars into the water bath canner. After all the jars are in place adjust the water level so that the water covers the jars by 1-2 inches.

Put the lid on the canner. Once the water reaches a full boil start the timer and process for 10 minutes. If you live at a higher elevation you may need to adjust your processing times. For more information check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Turn off the heat, carefully take off the lid to the canner, and let it sit for 5 minutes. This allows the water to stop boiling, and everything to slightly cool before taking the jars out of the canner.

After 5 minutes use the jar lifters again and lift the jars out of the canner and set them on a towel lined countertop. Let the jars rest until completely cool.

Remove the lids, check for a good seal. The lid should be sunken in and you can pick up the jar by the lid.

Wash, dry, and label the jars.

Wait for 1 or more weeks to eat the pickles. The flavors need time to meld and develop a great tasting pickle.

dill pickles

Water Bath Canned Dill Pickles

www.mynaturallysweetenedlife.com
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 1 quart

Ingredients
  

Pickle Brine

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp honey

Other

  • 2 pounds Fresh cucumbers
  • 2 Fresh garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Fresh dill sprigs and 1 flower head

Instructions
 

  • Fill the canner halfway with water. Place it on the stove on medium heat.
  • Wash the canning jars.
  • Clean the cucumbers and set aside.
  • Peel the garlic and set aside. Rinse the dill and set aside.
  • Pack the jars with the cucumbers. You can leave them whole, sliced, or spears. Add the garlic and dill to each jar.
  • In a saucepan on medium high heat, add the water, white vinegar, salt, and honey. Heat the brine until the salt is dissolved. The brine does not need to be at a boil. Ladle the brine into the jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Debubble the jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth, add the lids and rings. Tighten the rings finger tight.
  • Place the jars into the canner. After all the jars are in the canner adjust the water levels so that the water covers the jars by 1-2 inches.
  • Place the lid on the canner. Adjust the heat to medium high and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, start the timer for 10 minutes.
  • Once the 10 minutes has passed, turn off the heat, and take off the canner lid so that the water will stop boiling. This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Using jar grabbers, pull the jars out of the canner and set them on a towel lined countertop. Place a dry towel on top of the jars to protect them from any cooler air.
  • Let the jars sit on the counter until completely cool.
  • Once cool, remove the rings, check for a good seal.
  • Wipe down the outside of the jars and label them with a sharpie.
  • Store in a cool dark place for up to a year.

Notes

Remember that the recipe for the brine is for 1 quart of pickles. If you have more jars you can easily adjust the amount of brine.
If you are buying cucumbers from the market, you need 1 pound of cucumbers for every pint or 2 pounds for every quart.
On average you need 14 pounds of cucumbers per 7 quarts. 

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How to can honey sweetened peaches

How to can honey sweetened pineapple

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