Who loves pickles? Me too! Did you know it’s actually pretty darn easy to can your own pickles? Canning goes back for generations and is one of my favorite ways of preserving my garden harvests. Canning is extremely cost-effective, and it’s perfect for pickles since cucumbers are something that does not freeze well. I freeze many things, but at some point, the freezer is just too full! Canning offers shelf-stable storage for your healthy garden goodies. It also gives you complete control of what is in your food. Not to mention, the jars of finished pickles are so pretty!
Did you know that many pickles on the shelves at your grocery store contain food coloring? It’s true! My motto is to eat “REAL” food. There is nothing “food like” about the ingredient “yellow 5”. Food colorings are chemical additives that have been linked to hyperactivity in children, among other things. Personally, I avoid chemicals of any kind in my food, whenever possible. When you make your own pickles, you have the control over what goes in them. I personally prefer my pickles without any neon green added.
In this post, I will give you a step by step, beginners guide to canning your own pickles. This recipe is customizable and very user-friendly. Hey, why not make a party out of it? Gather friends and family for a fun canning day! Many hands make light work. 🙂
When I first started canning, it seemed very scary and overwhelming. Many of the tutorials I found were vague for newbies, so I wanted to make this as informative as possible. I will break everything down for you step by step and soon it won’t seem so scary. I know it’s exciting, but before you go harvesting buckets of cucumbers, let’s go over a few things.
If you’ve never canned before, you will need to gather some equipment. Canning tools are very easy to find and are not a huge investment. Most everything you need is available on Amazon (I will have links at the end of the post for many of the tools you will need), home improvement stores or Wal-Mart. Many grocery stores carry supplies during canning season as well. Here is a list of equipment needed for canning pickles.
Equipment & Tools:
- 7 Pint-sized mason jars. – Mason jars come with the option of either a “regular” or “wide” mouth. I prefer the “wide” mouth option. That just means there’s a larger opening to the jar. It is much easier for filling, emptying and washing your jars. The images in this post are a “regular” mouth jar, which was what I had available when I made this batch of pickles.
- Lids and rings for your jars. – If you purchase a case of jars, which I recommend since it is the most cost-effective route, it will include lids and rings. The flat, round piece that covers the jar and seals it closed is the lid. The ring is the outer piece that screws on to hold the lid in place during the canning process. If you are reusing old jars, you may re-use rings, but ALWAYS use brand new lids to ensure a proper seal.
- Water-bath canner. – All this is, is a big stock pot with a rack for the jars to sit on inside. The canner is where the pickles are processed in boiling water. A water-bath canner is nice, but not completely necessary. If you already own a large stockpot that your jars fit in well, and they can be completely submerged in the boiling water, that will work just fine. I use my own stockpot since many water-bath canners are not recommended for glass top stoves, which is what we currently have.
- Jar lifter– During the canning process, the jars are very hot. This is just a simple tool to easily handle the hot jars.
- Magnetic lid lifter – The lids and rings are also hot. This tool has a small magnet on the end for easy handling.
- Funnel- Using a funnel equals less mess when filling your jars.
- Bubble remover- When you are filling your jars, air bubbles get trapped inside. This tool, when inserted along the interior edges of the filled jars, pops all those bubbles and allows the contents to settle. This means you can be sure your jars will be filled completely.
- Ladle– Used to pour hot brine into your jars.
These are your basic canning tools and equipment. There are a few more things you will need, that you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Cookie sheet
- Small sauce pan
- Large sauce pan
- Kitchen towels
- Clean small rag or paper towel
Now you have all your equipment. Everything is washed and ready to go, so let’s move on to the ingredients list. (YAY!)
I mentioned before that this recipe is customizable, and it is, but be sure not to change the water and vinegar or salt. Why? For food safety reasons. In order to process your pickles in the water-bath method, the recipe must have the right amount of acidity to ensure any harmful bacteria is being killed. That might sound super scary, I know. Don’t worry, If you follow the recipe, there is nothing to be afraid of.
- 8 lbs Cucumbers, washed and sliced
- Large bunch of fresh dill
- 7 Fresh cloves of garlic (1 per jar), peeled and cut in half
- 7 Bay leaves (1 per jar)
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seed per jar
- 1/4 tsp Peppercorns per jar
- 1/8 tsp Red pepper flakes per jar
(Oops, the red pepper flakes are not pictured below.)
Brine- This is the hot liquid that is poured over the cucumbers, into the jars, to flavor and preserve your pickles.
- 4 Cups apple cider vinegar
- 4 Cups water
- 3/4 cups salt
Now I’m going to show you how to turn this :
Step 1- STERILIZE YOUR JARS. Pre-heat oven to 225° . Wash and dry jars, then place them right side UP on a foil lined cookie sheet. Place them in pre-heated oven for at least 20 min. Keep the jars in the oven until right before you are ready to fill them.
Step 2- PREPARE CANNER. Fill your stock pot or water bath canner with water and heat on high. Your jars need to be processed at a full rolling boil. The large canners can take quite a while to get to a boil, so start it right away.
Step 3- SET UP WORK AREA/PREPARE BRINE. I like to work from left to right. You can see below, that I have everything I need to fill the jars to the left of my stove. In a small saucepan filled with water, place your lids and rings. Heat on medium. You can see mine on the back burner. On the front burner is the large saucepan with the brine ingredients. Heat to boiling then reduce to simmer.
Step 4- FILL JARS- Once your brine is simmering, your water bath is boiling (or very close to it), and your jars have been in the oven for at least 20 minutes, you’re ready to fill them.
Remove jars (Carefully! They will be HOT) from oven and add to each one:
- Dill- About this much
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/4 tsp peppercorns
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Fill to top with sliced cucumbers.
Now, with the funnel, ladle hot brine into the jars.
Step 5 – REMOVE AIR BUBBLES. With your bubble remover, slide the jagged edge into your jar multiple times to release the trapped air bubbles. Usually, along the inner edges of the jar works best. You will notice the contents of your jars settling. You will want to have a 1/2 inch of head space. (This is the amount of open space that will be between the contents and the lid of the jar.) After removing bubbles you may need to add more brine or remove cucumbers to make sure you have the 1/2 inch of head space that is needed.
Step 6- CLEAN EDGE OF JAR- It’s important that the top outer edge of your jar is clean so that the lid seals completely. Use a clean damp rag or paper towel to do this.
Step 7- LIDS AND RINGS- Using your lid lifter. Lift hot lids out of the small sauce pan and place on each jar. Next, do the same thing with the rings. Screw on the rings finger tight.
Step 8- PLACE JARS IN WATER-BATH. Using the jar lifter, lift each jar into the boiling water bath. Make sure the jars are FULLY submerged. Cover and process for 15 minutes. Make sure the water stays at a full boil. My pot only holds 4 pints at a time, so I did mine in two batches
Step 9- COOL DOWN. When your pickles have processed at a full boil for 15 minutes, remove from water bath with the jar lifter. Place your jars on a towel covered counter. Listen for the popping sound. This is the sound of the lids sealing. I tend to count all the pops to make sure each jar seals. Leave your pickle jars undisturbed for 24 hours
Step 10- CHECK FOR PROPER SEAL. After your pickles have rested. There are two ways to check for a proper seal. Of course, listen for that wonderful popping sound. Also, look closely at the center of each lid. It should be indented. To double-check, press on it. If the lid bounces back, it is not sealed. The other method is to remove the ring and lift the jar with your fingers, only by the edge of the lid. If the lid stays in place you have a good seal. I have yet to have a jar not seal, but if you experience this, just refrigerate and eat these first. Now all that’s left is to label, date and store your beautiful pickles! They make great gifts, too.
YOU DID IT!! REWARD YOURSELF!! I certainly did. This mama needs a sweet treat once in a while.
I really hope you enjoyed my “Canning pickles for newbies” tutorial. Try it out and let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear any questions or comments. Also, if you like my blog, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’m always interested in what you all think!
p.s. Check out my other newbie canning tutorial on pickled banana peppers! Is there any other canning how to’s I can help with? Let me know!
shared on The Homesteader Hop0