Making Pickles

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Pickling and canning are great ways to preserve local fruits and vegetables to enjoy during the cold fall and winter months. This year I thought it would be a great idea to make my own as a fun date idea with my fiancée. I did some reading ahead of time and hoped that it would be an easy task for a Sunday afternoon.

There are many recipes for making pickles online but not all of them go through the correct processing times or safe handling practices. For safety purposes I used the newest version of Joy of Cooking to get all the details for the safest practices.

I will warn you that making pickles is not an easy task, food safety is imperative. Please find a reliable source like Joy of Cooking before you embark on your canning adventures. Below I will list some of the most important points to remember when canning. Now we just have to wait 6 more weeks and we can try out our home made pickles.

  1. Buy fresh produce
    • It’s best to go to a local farmer and choose produce picked that day. If you can’t go the day you’re planning on canning make sure you store your produce in the fridge.
    • Choose firm produce that has no blemishes
    • The fresher and firmer the produce the crisper your pickles will be
  2. Cut the blossom end off the pickles
    • The blossom end has an enzyme in it that softens the pickles
    • I didn’t know which one was the blossom end so I cut off both ends
  3. Make sure everything is clean
    • Wash and scrub all of your vegetables
    • Clean and sanitize all equipment and surfaces
    • Sterilize jars with boiling water this is especially important if you are not canning
  4. Jars and lids should be warm
    • Use boiling water to sanitize jars
    • To suction properly, heat up the lids (not the screw tops) so that the rubber can stick down
  5. If you want to store your pickles on the counter for up to a year, make sure you do the proper processing time:
    • Heat a large pot of water to 140F then put your sealed jars of cucumbers, turn up the heat and once the pickles boil, process for at least 15 minutes.
  6. DO NOT CHANGE THE VINEGAR RATIO
    • For proper pickling you need to use vinegar and salt, use the amount your recipe calls for, most dill pickles are 1:1
    • Use a high acid vinegar like white or cider vinegar
    • Your vinegar should be at least 5% acetic acid, any lower and you won’t have enough acid for food preservation
  7. Use pickling salt
    • Don’t use iodized or kosher salt, the additives can make the brine cloudy
  8. Use proper canning jars – any other jars could break during the canning process
  9. Clean the rim of the jar with a wet towel before sealing
  10. Do not screw jar lids too tightly
    • If you screw it too tightly the lids will bubble as heat and air try to escape during the canning process (I know this because it happened to us…)
  11. When you take jars out of the boiling water place on a wood surface or on a folded cloth, will take likely over night to cool down
    • Leave at least an inch space between jars while cooling
    • Store in a cool dark space
  12. Let your pickles mellow for at least 3-6 weeks and enjoy

If you don’t go through the processing for your pickles you can store them in your fridge for up to 2 months.

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