In my opinion I’ve saved the best canning experience for last. While I don’t like eating pickles I LOVE canning them! It is such a fun experience to go through the process of taking cucumbers and turning them in to exciting pickles. I tried my first batch a couple of years ago and Alex loved them. I made about a dozen jars and they lasted us for well over a year.
This time however, I decided to cheat a little bit. I wasn’t quite comfortable with just adding ingredients to a pot like I had the last time, just based on more food safety research. So this time I used a pickle canning mix. This just ensure you have the proper amount of acidity in the food to keep any spores from developing. Since you’re working with vinegar, the acidity should be high enough that you don’t need to use a mix, I just wanted to be on the safe side. It is completely up to you but I would suggest doing your own research to see what you’re comfortable with.
This year I used Mrs Wages Pickle Mix in Spicy to make my pickles, although any of her mixes will work. They are easily accessible where I live through Fleet Farm so that is what I went with. If there is a different mix at your local store I would say use it. As long as they sound good to you, you really can’t go wrong!
To begin you will need to start preparing your jars, lids and bands. If you’re new to canning you can check out my previous posting on How To: Water Bath Canning. You should prepare your jars as suggested by the manufacturer. You will also need to begin prepping your canning liquid as directed on the back of your bag. The directions and ingredients will vary depending on what type of pickles you are making.
After you have begun preparing the jars and canning liquid you will want to slice your cucumbers. The key is to make them all pretty uniform. If you decide to slice them thick, slice them all thick. If you decide on thin, do them all thin. This will just help during the pickling process to keep them from some of them being soggy and some being crisp. After you’ve slice all of them you will want to set them aside and begin packing the jars.
To pack the jars you will want to remove a hot jar from the boiling water. At this point you can include extra dried dill or a clove of garlic in the jar. Then pack with the sliced cucumbers leaving a ½ inch headspace. Then fill to the top with the pickling liquid leaving again, a ½ inch headspace. Place a lid on top and secure with a band. Tighten to fingertip tight, then tighten again. Place back in your water bath canner. Repeat until all the prepared jars are full then process your jars. For pickles you will need to process the jars for 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and process them for 5 more minutes. Remove from the boiling liquid and place on the counter in a spot where they won’t have to be moved for 24 hours. Let them sit and cool. If you find that any jars did not seal you can actually process them again if you catch it within 24 hours. Otherwise put the unsealed jars in the fridge and use within a week. The sealed jars you can put in the pantry for storage.