Have you ever thought about how much fun it would be to make your own pickles? While pickles can be fairly inexpensive to purchase, you don't always get the taste that you would like the most. By canning your own pickles you can easily add what spices you want and get exactly the flavor you would like, and even create your own unique flavors.
- 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers (4 inch length)
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup 5% vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dill seed
- 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- 2 dried red peppers (optional)
- 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
- Wash and prep cucumbers. Begin the pickling and canning process by first washing and preparing the cucumbers. Wash your cucumbers thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, or even pesticides that may remain. Once you have finished cleaning, cut off as little of the blossom end as possible. What this means is that you cut off anything that doesn't look edible as close to the cucumber as you possibly can (typically 1/16 inch).
- Add spices. Place roughly half of your spices at the bottom of a container that you will be using for the pickling process. This container can be a large jar, that you have cleaned jar (such as an old pickle jar). With that done, add your cucumbers, and the remaining spices. In a separate bowl mix together the salt, water, and vinegar, and stir until the salt has completely dissolved.
- Store. When you have the pickling agent completely mixed, pour it over the pickles and then cover the container. Place the covered container in a location that is 75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, ideally between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not store above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower than 40 degrees temperature, or you risk ruining the process. Depending on the temperature you are storing the cucumbers at, the process can take between three to six weeks, the higher the temperature the faster the process.
- Check. Over the course of the fermentation process, you will need to check the container about three times a week (i.e., every other day), and remove any scum or mold that develops. At the same time, check the cucumbers to ensure that they are not soft, slimy, or have an odor that pickles shouldn't have. If they do, then discard them.
- Prepare brine. After the pickles are fully fermented, you can begin preparing for the canning process. To do this, you will need to first remove any remaining scum or mold that is on the surface of the brine. Once you have done that, remove the pickles from the container. Set the pickles into individual jars. Pour the brine into a pot and slowly heat it to a low boil. Simmer the brine for no more than five minutes.
- Filter brine. Once you have finished simmering the brine, you will need to filter it. This will remove any remaining gunk that you don't want in the brine. Pour the brine through paper coffee filters until you are satisfied with the clarity of the brine.
- Fill jar. While the brine is still warm, even hot, pour it over the top of the pickles. Allow about 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar for the canning process. You should have enough brine to fill up all of the jars you will be canning.
- Process jars. When you have finished pouring the brine over the pickles, secure the lid on each. Process the jars as appropriate in a boiling water bath. Typically this will be about 10 minutes for a pint sized jar, and 15 minutes for a quart sized jar. For maximum crispiness make sure that your water bath is around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and process the pickles for 30 minutes.
While this process will allow you to can your freshly fermented pickles, you do need to be aware of your altitude. Altitude always has an effect on the canning process, so be aware of where you live before you begin the whole process. For example any altitude that is between 1000 feet and 5999 feet above sea level, you will need to add an additional five minutes. For more than 6000 feet you will need to add an additional 10 minutes.