Of all the things my Grandma makes, her pickles are my favorite. I’ve always thought I’d like to learn how to make them, but then, I thought it would be really difficult. We all know I’m no good at baking, or anything that requires exact measurements, etc., so I figured canning would fall into that same category. Pickles seemed like a daunting task.
Sunday morning, Grandma invited me over to learn how to can pickles. I learned a few things 1.) There’s tricks that no canning book will tell you that are IMPORTANT (but guess what? I’ll tell you guys because I’m nice 😀 ) 2.) Canning pickles is EASY! 3.) Canning pickles is actually kind of fun! 3.) My Grandma knows I’m not graceful and therefore, she expects I will burn and cut myself…. (I ALMOST cut myself).
So, since I’m so nice ( 😀 ) I will share the instructions AND recipe as well as some nifty, blurry photos taken from my phone, so that all of you can can pickles too!
What you need:
•A large pot of boiling water
•A canning rack (sits in the bottom of the pot so that the cans don’t sit directly on the bottom and break)
•Four quart jars or Eight Pint Jars (we used pint jars since these will be Christmas gifts – I know, weird gift, right?)
•Canning lid flats and rings
•Three dozen small cucumbers (or six pounds if you’re getting them weighed at the farmer’s market)
•4 C. Vinegar
•4 C. Water
•3/4 C. Sugar
•1/2 C. Pickling Salt
•Grape Leaves (*one for each jar)
•Garlic Cloves (*one for each jar)
•Dill (*Two heads for each jar)
So first, you want to sterilize your jars, lids and rings, so boil some water in a big pan and boil all of those aforementioned items for a few moments to make sure there are no contaminants on any of the supplies.
Then, you must scrub all of the cucumbers to make absolutely sure there is no dirt anywhere on them. ***Grandma’s Trick Alert**** Cut the tips of both ends of the cucumbers, because dirt can settle in the rough edges and will spoil the jar of pickles.
Slice thin slices of onion, peel and separate the garlic cloves, wash and dry your grape leaves (cut off stems) and cut stems off heads of dill (Make nifty little piles that are easy to grab for each jar on a paper towel).
Grandma Trick – Cover a wood cutting board in newspaper to insulate so that when you’re done with the boiling of the pickles you have a place to set the jars.
OK now you’re ready….
Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt together in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
Now, in each jar, place first a grape leaf, then a slice of onion to hold down the grape leaf, then a clove of garlic, then one head of dill…
Slice each cucumber in half or fourths depending on how large you want your pickles. Grandma tip – lay the jar on the side so that it’s easier to pack in the cucumber slices tightly….
Pack each jar full of cucumber slices very tightly. Cut smaller ones to lay across the top. Fill jar to the rim putting a second head of dill in the top (do not leave anything sticking over the first rim)
Use a mug or ladle to pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jars. Pour just to top rim (it’s about 3/4 of a cup for a pint size jar). ***Grandma Tip*** Sometimes the liquid will settle into the cucumbers, so go over all the jars again after you’re done to make sure there is enough liquid in all of the jars.
***Another Grandma Tip**** Wipe all of the jar rims with a wet paper towel after they’re filled to make sure no residue is left between the lid seal and the glass rim.
Now you can put the flat lid and rings on all of the jars.
Place jars in the boiling water pan on top of the rack…
Once you’ve got all the jars in boiling water that is deep enough that it covers the top of the jars, boil for 10-12 minutes. (This is called a water bath. LOL)
Use a clamp of some sort (Grandma has a really nifty vintage one) to remove the hot jars from the water.
****Grandma tip**** Make sure the window is closed when you’re boiling the jars and while they’re “setting” before they’re all sealed so that the cool breeze doesn’t disrupt the sealing process. Also be sure to set jars to cool so that there’s at least a flat hand width between each of the jars to allow air to move between the cooling pickles.
As the jars cool, you’ll hear the lids pop, meaning they’ve sealed. Grandma tip*** – Do not “poke” the lids to see if they’ve sealed. That can create a “false seal” and will spoil your pickles. If some jars are having a hard time sealing, you can tip them upside down as that forces the air out. To see if the jars have sealed, hold them up so the top is level and look across the top. The indent in the center of the lid means the jar has sealed.