Savor a Snack – Make Safe Pickles at Home

Pickles are not only delicious, they also contain fiber and antioxidants. Great for snacking on, a crunchy pickle can’t be beat.

Back when our grandmothers made pickles, they had to use a large quantity of pickling salt and skim the scum off the brine. This process could take over a week. The process below is a simple recipe, just right for those pickling for the first time. Cucumbers are combined with hot vinegar, salt, and seasonings.

Items needed to make quick process pickles:

- Pickling solutions- These are made of water, vinegar, pickling spices, such as dill for dill pickles, garlic for garlic pickles, and sugar for sweet pickles, and pickling salt. Note: ordinary table salt cannot be used in the pickle making process. The iodine reacts badly with the cucumbers and spices and can spoil pickles. Only use kosher or canning salt when canning. The vinegar also needs to be a vinegar that contains at least 5% acid. Look for a distilled vinegar or an apple cider vinegar.
- Cucumbers- You must use pickling cucumbers for making cucumber pickles. Pickling cucumbers are light green and are between 2-4 inches long. The cucumbers should be washed. When slicing the pickles, ensure that the ends are cut off. The blossom end is not only bitter, it contains the microbes that cause the cucumber to soften.
- Canning equipment- You will need some equipment to get you started on your canning/pickling process. Many items you may already have in your home. You will need a boiling water canner, which is a large pot with a lid. It needs to be a pot large enough to hold your canning jars and completely cover them in water. If you have a pressure cooker, that’s even better. The pressure cooker enables you to lock down the lid and use the steam to help kill the bacteria found in foods. It’s safe to can pickles in a boiling water canner because of the high acid content found in pickling spices. If you plan to can on a regular basis and want to can fresh vegetables, consider investing in a pressure cooker. Canning jars and lids are also needed. These can be purchased in a grocery store or at a large box retailer. They will come with the bands and seals that are needed to seal them.

Making dill pickles:

Before making the recipe, sterilize your jars and lids by running them through the heat cycle of your dishwasher or by boiling them for 10 minutes in fully boiling water.

Ingredients:

30 3-4 inch pickling cucumbers
1 quart cider vinegar
3/4 cup kosher or canning salt
2 quarts water
16 fresh dill sprigs
8 cloves of chopped garlic
8 quart size canning jars with bands and lids

Directions:

1. Wash and slice the cucumbers, either length-wise for spears or in rounds.
2. Place 2 sprigs of chopped dill and one clove of chopped garlic into the bottom of each jar.
3. Pack the cucumbers in the jars, leaving room at the top for the pickling brine to cover the cucumber slices.
4. Combine vinegar, salt, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Note: Dried red pepper flakes, pickling spice, or cumin can be added to this mixture. It is also very important to use an enameled pan. Metal pans will react with the vinegar and cause a cloudy and bitter reaction.
5. Bring to a near-boil boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch between the vinegar and the top of the jar.
7. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
8. Allow the jars to cool and then store in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry place.

Your pickles can be eaten within 24-36 hours, but for the true flavors to develop, it’s best to wait two weeks.