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Well, my family and I had the opportunity to can some pickles the other day just in time for National Pickle month. This is a family activity I enjoy doing that we didn’t get a chance to do last year. This year, we planted cucumber seeds, but we have only been getting enough cucumbers to pick and enjoy fresh with our meals or to quick pickle in small amounts. We simply haven’t had enough cucumbers picked all at one time to justify digging out the canning supplies.
Thankfully, we know someone who has been blessed with an abundance of cucumbers this year who was gracious enough to pass some on to us.
I was excited to finally be able to can again even though it took me a little while to find my canner* and canning supplies in some boxes in my basement. I am certainly not a canning expert, but I have enjoyed canning pickles, jalapenos, peaches, pears, and salsa in the past with my family. Online recipes and information are great!
My favorite pickles (practically the only pickles that I actually enjoy) are bread and butter pickles. I absolutely love my grandma’s homemade bread and butter pickles. She makes refrigerator bread and butter pickles with her recipe (no canner or extra equipment required). I adjust her recipe a little when we can the pickles so that the ingredients fill the jars and are safe to store on a shelf until eaten at a later date.
We began our pickle making process (once the canner and supplies had been located) by washing all of the canning equipment and cucumbers. We divided the amount of water needed in the canner between the canner and another pot so the water heated up quicker. Heating the canner filled with water can take a lot of time! It doesn’t help that I somehow manage to fill the pots with more water than needed, which takes even more time to heat and remove when steaming hot.
My daughters often have the job as “cucumber taste tester”. Essentially, they taste and approve or disapprove a small slice of each cucumber before we put them in the jars. They get a healthy snack while helping with the pickling process.
They are now getting older and were promoted to cucumber slicers as well as cucumber taste testers this year. I cut a few of the cucumbers, and then they cut the rest. They also helped add the slices of cucumbers to the jars once each cucumber was approved. Just incase you are wondering, all of the cucumbers were approved this time around. I also cut and added a few slices of onions to each of the jars.
I tried pushing the cucumber slices and onion slices down into the jars as much as possible. Then, I added 1/4 tspn tumeric, 1/4 tspn celery seed, and 1/4 tspn mustard seed to each of the jars. I filled my kitchen sink with some hot (not boiling) water and set all six of the quart sized jars in the sink so the outsides would not be cold when placed in to the boiling bath of water in the canner. I don’t want the sudden change of temperature to cause the jars to burst open.
While the jars were being filled, I heated and mixed 8 cups vinegar, 8 cups sugar, and just over 2/3 cup canning and pickling salt. Once the sugar and salt was completely dissolved, I let the vinegar mixture cool slightly.
From there, my husband and I added the vinegar mixture to each of the jars, making sure to leave some empty space at the top of the jars. We had a little bit of the mixture left over, which I poured into a separate jar to make refrigerator pickles with future cucumbers we pick. We wiped off the tops of the jars, placed the lid inserts (which had been warmed in a small pot) on each jar, and then carefully tightened the rings on to each of the jars.
We removed the jars from the kitchen sink where they had still been sitting in hot water, shook them a little to mix all of the ingredients, set them in the canning rack (included with our canner), and placed them gently in to the canner (after removing all of the extra unneeded hot water from the canner). Our daughters don’t get to partake in this part of the process since it involves very hot water and jars that could break.
Once the filled jars sat in the boiling water for 15 minutes, my husband removed the jars from the canner one by one and placed them on a towel on our counter. All six of the lids sealed within a few minutes. I love hearing the sound of them popping as they seal!
Don’t they look yummy?
I dated the lids and shook the jars around some more to allow the ingredients to mix together. These will be stored out of direct sunlight and eaten some time in the future. I’m excited to see how they will taste – hopefully delicious!
Have you ever made pickles? If so, what kind of pickles do you like to make?
(* This links to the canner that I use; however, I have had it for many years and did not pay what it is currently listed for. If you are interested in canning, there are other canners available at a lower cost. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with any other canner, so I wouldn’t be able to make a good recommendation.)