How to Can Pickles
Canning pickles is a pretty easy process once you have done it a few times. The basic steps are:
1) Pickle the vegetables you want to can
2) Process the canned pickles in a water bath or pressure canner
That's all there is to it!
General Canning Considerations
When canning foods you want to make sure the acidity level is high enough to kill bacteria and inhibit their growth. The easiest way to accomplish this is through adding vinegar to the pickles.
How to Can Pickles
For the step by step directions we will use cucumbers for the pickles but this process works for most pickled vegetables.
Pick out the Cucumbers
Make sure you pick vegetables that are crisp, fresh, and look free of mold or spots. Using "pickling cucumbers" can also result in a crisper pickle than using slicing ones.
Prepare the Cucumbers
First, wash the cucumbers well. Trim off the end of the cucumber where the blossom was.
There are many different types of pickled cucumbers, from small whole gherkins to thinly sliced "chips". Cut the cucumbers into the shape desired for your pickles.
Sanitize Your Jars
The key to safely storing pickles is cleanliness. To ensure everything is clean you can either run all your jars, lids, and equipment (like jar grabbers, etc) through the dishwasher or boil them in a pot for several minutes.
Heat Your Canner
Fill your canning pot with water, you will want it to cover the jars by at least an inch of water. Heat it on the stove over high heat until it boils. You can let it heat while you follow the next few steps.
Make the Pickles
Mix together vinegar and your pickling mix. When getting started it can be helpful to use one of the many pickling mixes available. It saves time as well as tells you exactly how much vinegar to use. We have many recipes for custom spice mixes but packaged mixes are a good place to start.
Bring the pickling liquid to a boil.
Package the Jars
Fill your jars with the cucumbers. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers and fill the jar to 1/2" of the top. Make sure all air is removed by jostling the jar or using a chopstick or other long, wooden object to release any air bubbles.
Place the lids and rings on the jars and tighten the rings.
Process the Jars
Place the jars in your boiling water bath or canner and process for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the jars. Some pickling spice mixes will have different instructions on how long to cook, feel free to follow their instructions.
Once the jars are done processing remove them from the water and let them cool on the counter.
Once the jars are cooled you can test the seals by pressing down on the center of the lid. If it goes up and down, making a clicking or popping noise, then the seal did not work properly and you should store the pickles in the refrigerator. They should last for up to 6 weeks.
If the seal was successful the lid shouldn't pop and the pickles can be stored for up to a year in a dark, cool place.