I want to preface this post with a confession. I have never canned before. My mom is a canner and has been my entire life. When you live out on acreage with a large garden you have to learn how to preserve or you will waste much of the harvest bounty. I have been meaning to learn for years, and finally tried my hand when I received two huge boxes of pickling cucumbers from my parents. I still have some things to learn and recipes to tweak, but overall I am pretty proud with my outcome.
Let me back up a minute and talk about the produce I used. These cucumbers are no ordinary pickling cucumbers. They are monsters. The first one is the typical size pickle you see in the store. The one on the right is the typical size cucumber in my parent’s garden…
And not only are they ginormous, they are plentiful. After filling one side of my sink to wash them up, I only scraped the surface of the two boxes I had.
Since these cucumbers were so large and plentiful, I opted to cut them up two different ways, in rounds…
And in spears.
After they were cut up, I had read that I should coat in salt and soak in cold water for up to 24 hours and that helps keep the pickles more crisp.
I gave that a try using bowls and plates to weigh them down to keep submerged in water. Next time I will try without this step to see it if really helps. I found the pickles to be a bit saltier than I would like and I am not sure if it is because of the salt bath or the brine I made.
While waiting for the pickles to soak, I chopped up some jalapeños and soaked them overnight in an ice bath too. I really wanted to make some spicy pickles in this batch, and they have turned out to be my favorite.
The next day it was time to get canning. I drained all the cucumbers, peeled a few heads of garlic and gathered my spices and herbs. I made jalapeno pickles, dill pickles, pickling spice pickles and garlic pickles.
With all the supplies ready, I made by pickling brine. I used the basic recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef
- ½ cup pickling salt
- 6 cups water
- 6 cups white vinegar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
As I packed each jar I switched between the types of pickles. In the jalapeno pickles I added pepper flakes, peppercorns and garlic. In the dill pickles I used fresh dill sprigs, garlic, mustard seed and peppercorns. I ended up not being a fan of the pickling spice. It tastes like cinnamon and Christmas, so for pickles it just seems wrong in my opinion.
As for the actual canning process, I had to run to Target and buy a large pot, deep enough to can in, a Ball Utensil Set, and some jars. I did not have a canning rack, so I used lid rims and wire to diy one. I followed the process on A Sweet Pea Chef of processing for 10 minutes in boiling water. All the jars but one sealed, so I was pretty happy with the results.