DSC 0935

Perfect Pickles

Pickling is a process of food preservation using vinegar and salt. Pickles are eaten the world over and can be salty, bitter, sour, sweet or fiery hot. Dill pickles are the most common pickle in North America.

Although most of the ingredients used in pickles qualify as low acid foods, pickling recipes add enough acid to increase the acidity of the final product to that of a high acid food. The acid level of pickles helps to preserve the food. However, a boiling water bath is still required to process the pickles to destroy microorganisms what can cause spoilage.


Fresh-pack pickles are the quickest and easiest pickles to make. Ingredients are preserved in a spicy vinegar solution without prior fermentation. Recipes for fresh pack pickles may require vegetables to be salted or iced and left for several hours or overnight but no fermentation takes place prior to canning. The standing time creates firmer textured pickles by reducing the vegetables’ moisture content. After processing and before serving, store for 4 – 6 weeks to allow flavours time to mellow and blend.


When food is submerged in a salt water “brine” and allowed to stand it ferments or cures. Fermentation converts natural sugars in the food to lactic acid. This controls growth of microorganisms. Lactic acid also adds flavor and transforms low acid vegetables into high acid foods that can be safely processed in a boiling water canner. Fermentation can require up to 6 weeks. For this reason you will not be making fermented pickles in this project manual.

Equipment and Utensils

Due to pickles’ acidic components, use only nonreactive utensils and cookware. Crocks, stainless steel pots and food-grade plastic containers work well for pickles that require salting, icing or fermentation.

Soft Water

Soft water makes the best pickles. Minerals (calcium and magnesium) in hard water reduce the quality of pickles.

If soft water is not available you can soften your water using this technique. Boil water in a stainless steel saucepan for 15 minutes. Cover and let stand 24 hours then skim off the scum that probably will have formed on top of the water. Carefully ladle water into another container without disturbing sediment that collects at the bottom.


The best pickles are made with fruits and vegetables that are used within 24 hours of their being picked. Cucumbers deteriorate quickly at room temperature. Use only pickling cucumbers. Do not use waxed cucumbers since the brine cannot penetrate the wax coating. Field cucumbers are usually peeled and seeded before used in pickling recipes. Select tender vegetables and firm fruits for pickles.


Vinegar acts as a preservative and gives pickles a tart taste. Unless a recipe says otherwise, use only commercial vinegar with a minimum 5 % acidity. Never decrease the proportion of vinegar in a recipe. This would decrease the preservative balance and in turn the safety of the final product. Pickling vinegar has a 7 % acidity and yields products with a more astringent flavour.


Salt is essential when preserving pickles. It also adds flavour and crispness to pickles. Use only pickling salt. The iodine in table salt can cause pickles to darken. Table salt contains anti-clumping agents that cause a cloudy appearance in the product.


Sugar tempers pickle recipes’ tartness. Granulated white sugar is the most common choice for pickles.

Spices and Herbs

Fresh top quality dry spices and herbs are important. Less than fresh will not deliver the desirable flavour level and may cause a musty tainted taste. Whole spices are preferred. Tie whole spices in a spice bag to infuse flavour into pickling recipes with out affecting the end product’s texture and eating quality. Powdered seasonings can cause pickles to be cloudy.

To ensure crisp pickles:
1. Use top quality freshly harvested pickling cucumbers. Make pickles the same day you pick the cucumbers.
2. Remove the blossom end of pickling cucumbers. Cut off and throw away at least 3 mm (1/8 inch) from the blossom end of each cucumber. If you are unsure which end is the blossom end, cut off from each end. The blossom ends contain enzymes that can cause soft pickles.
3. Use only properly tested recipes and do not alter vinegar, water or vegetable quantities. Heat process using a boiling water bath .

Refrigerator Pickles

Because refrigerator pickles are not heat-processed they must be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigeration combined with vinegar, helps to preserve the pickles. Because there is no heat processing the pickles will not keep for long periods of time. For best results, place completed recipe in the refrigerator for a least 2 weeks and then use up within 3 months.

Refrigerator Dill Slices

Makes approximately 5 – 500 mL (pint) jars
 2.05 L (8 1/4 cups) sliced trimmed pickling cucumbers (0.5 cm (1/4 inch) slices)
 500 mL (2 cups) white vinegar
 500 mL (2 cups) water
 90 mL (6 tbsp.) pickling or canning salt
 50 mL (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
 30 mL (2 tbsp.) pickling spice
 37 mL (7 1/2 tsp) dill seeds
 25 mL (5 tsp) mustard seed
 6 mL (1 1/4 tsp) whole black peppercorns
 5 cloves garlic, halved (optional)

1. Place cucumber slices in a large glass or stainless steel bowl.
2. In a medium stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water, pickling salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 10 minutes.
3. Pour pickling liquid over cucumber slices. Cover with waxed paper and set aside until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
4. In each jar place 7 mL ( 1 1/2 tsp) dill seeds, 5 mL (1 tsp) mustard seeds, 1 mL (1/4 tsp) peppercorns and two garlic clove halves, if you are using.
5. Add cucumber slices to jar to within 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace of top of jar.
6. Ladle pickling liquid into jar to cover cucumbers, leaving 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace.
7. Apply lids.
8. For best results, allow cucumbers to marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 weeks and use within 3 months.

Instead of slicing the cucumbers, you can cut them lengthwise into quarters to create spears. Use about 15 medium pickling cucumbers. Select cucumbers that are uniform in length, preferably the same length as the depth of the jars.

Dill Slices

Makes approximately 5 – 500 mL (pint) jars
 1.8 kg (4 lb) medium pickling cucumbers
 1L (4 cups) cider vinegar
 1L (4 cups) water
 175 mL (3/4 cups) granulated sugar
 125 mL (1/2 cup) pickling salt
 45 mL (3 tbsp) fresh mixed pickling spices
 5 bay leaves
 5 garlic cloves
 12 mL (2 1/2 tsp) mustard seed
 5 heads fresh dill or 25 mL (5 tsp) dried dill seed

1. Place required number of clean 500 mL mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner or large pot. Cover jars with water and heat to a

simmer (180°F/82°C). Keep jars hot until ready to use. Set screw bands aside. To ensure a good seal, carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions in preparing lids for use.
2. Wash cucumbers removing all soil. Cut off blossom ends.
3. Cut cucumbers lengthwise into 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) slices. Set aside.
4. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a large stainless steel saucepan. Tie pickling spices in cheese cloth creating a spice bag. Add spice bag to vinegar mixture and simmer 15 minutes.
5. In each hot jar add 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, 2 mL (1/2 tsp) mustard seed and 1 head of fresh dill or 5 mL (1 tsp) dried dill seed.
6. Pack cucumber slices into hot jar to within 2 cm (3/4 inch) of top rim.
7. Add hot pickling liquid to cover cucumbers to within 1 cm (1/2 inch) of top rim (headspace). Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.
8. Wipe jar rim. Centre lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Do not overtighten.
9. Place jar in canner and repeat for remaining jars ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process 500mL (pint) jars for 10 minutes. Adjust time for Altitude – see page 18 of this manual.
10. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes until water is still and no more bubbles rise to the surface. Remove jars without tilting.
11. Cool upright, undisturbed for 24 hours. DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.
12. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and show no movement when pressed with fingertips. Remove screw bands and dry screw bands and jars with a cloth. Replace screw bands lightly. Any unsealed jars must be refrigerated.
13. Label and store jars in a cool dark place. Use within one year.

When pickling cucumbers are not available, substitute seeded peeled field cucumbers. To prepare, peel cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices. English cucumbers are not recommended for pickling.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B08M9JKK2M&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=192ways 20&language=en US
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0789QYV52&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=192ways 20&language=en US
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01H7GI7V8&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=192ways 20&language=en US
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07JMNMZN2&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=192ways 20&language=en US

Check Also

Gardens For The Senses

Gardens For The Senses

Time spent in natural environments can provide a range of health benefits, including reduced stress …

Leave a Reply

Fermented Pickles