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Bulletin #4044, Let’s Preserve Pickles

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Let’s Preserve

Pickles

cucumbers; photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDADeveloped by Penn State Cooperative Extension with special project funds from Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Recommended Varieties of Cucumbers

Use open-pollinated pickling cucumbers, such as SMR 58, Wisconsin SMR 18, and Multipik, or hybrids, such as Premier, Bounty, Score, and Calypso.

Quality

Select firm cucumbers of the appropriate size, about 2 inches for gherkins and 5 inches for dills. Use odd-shaped and more mature cucumbers for relishes and bread-and-butter style pickles.

Containers, Weights and Covers for Fermenting

A 1-gallon container holds 5 pounds of fresh cucumbers; a 5-gallon container holds 25 pounds. Glass and food-grade plastic containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks.  Other 1- to 3-gallon food-grade containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners. A large, sealed, food-grade plastic bag containing 4-1/2 tablespoons of salt and 3 quarts of water may be used as a weight to hold cucumbers under the surface of brine. A plate and jars of water may also be used. Select a pie or dinner plate just small enough to fit inside the fermentation container. Cover the weight and container top with several thicknesses of muslin, cheesecloth, or an uncolored clean bath towel to reduce mold growth on the brine surface.

Preparation

Wash cucumbers and cut 1/16 inch off the blossom end when specified in directions.

Pickling lime treatment: If you prefer pickles which are especially firm, mix 1 cup pickling lime and 1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon of water in a 2- to 3-gallon crock or enamelware container. Avoid inhaling lime-water solution while mixing. Soak cucumbers in lime water for 12 to 24 hours. Remove cucumbers from lime solution, rinse, and resoak 1 hour in fresh cold water. Repeat the rinsing and soaking steps in fresh water two more times.  Handle carefully, as slices will be brittle. Drain well.

Canning procedure

Wash jars. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fill jars with products. Wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp paper towel. Add lids and tighten screw bands. Process jars in a boiling water canner or use a low temperature pasteurization treatment.

To process in a boiling water canner, fill canner halfway with water and preheat to 180 degrees F for hot packs or 140 degrees F for raw packs. Load sealed jars into the canner rack and lower with handles; or load one jar at a time with a jar lifter onto rack in canner. Add water if needed to a level of 1 inch above jars and add cover. When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process jars for the time given in Table 1.

To process using low-temperature pasteurization treatment, place jars in a canner filled halfway with warm (120 degrees F to 140 degrees F) water. Add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water and maintain a 180 degrees F water temperature for 30 minutes. Use a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180 degrees F during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185 degrees F may cause unnecessary softening of pickles. This treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Caution: Use only when recipe indicates.

After processing is completed, remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place on a towel or rack. Do not retighten screw bands. Cool jars 12 to 24 hours and remove screw bands.  Check lid seals. If the center of the lid is indented, the jar is sealed. Wash, dry, label, and store sealed jars in a clean, cool, dark place. If the lid is unsealed, examine and replace jar if defective, use new lid, and process as before. Wash screw bands and store separately. Pickles are best if used within a year and safe as long as lids remain vacuum sealed.

Process Times

Table 1. Recommended Processing Times in a Boiling Water Canner

Pickle

Style of Pack
Minutes of processing time at altitudes of:
Jar size 0-1000 ft. 1001-6000 ft Above 6000 ft.

Quick fresh pack dill

Raw

Pints

Quarts

10

15

15

20

20

25

Quick sweet

Hot

Pints or quarts

5*

10

15

Raw

Pints

Quarts

10

15

15

20

20

25

Sweet gherkin

Raw

Pints

Quarts

5*

10

10

15

15

20

Bread and butter

Hot

Pints or quarts

10

15

20

Pickle relish

Hot

Half-pints or pints

10

15

20

*Use sterile jars. Place clean, empty jars in a boiling water canner, cover jars with water, and boil 10 minutes.


Pickle Relish

Ingredients
3 qt. fresh chopped cucumbers
3 cups chopped sweet green peppers
3 cups chopped sweet red peppers
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup canning or pickling salt
2 qt. water
1 qt. ice
2 cups sugar
4 tsp. each of mustard seed, turmeric, whole allspice, and whole cloves
1-1/2 qt. white vinegar (5%)

Yield: 8 to 9 pints

Procedure: Add salt, ice, cucumbers, peppers, and onions to water and let stand 4 hours. Drain and cover vegetables with fresh ice water for another hour. Drain again. Combine spices in a spice bag or cheesecloth bag. Add spices to sugar and vinegar. Heat to boiling and pour mixture over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Heat mixture to boil and fill clean jars while hot, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 1.


Quick Fresh Pack Dill Pickles

Ingredients
8 lbs. of 3- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers
2 gal. water
1-1/2 cups canning or pickling salt
1-1/2 qts. vinegar (5%)
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/4 – 2 qts. water
2 tbsp. whole mixed pickling spice
5 tbsp. whole mustard seed (2 tsp. per quart jar)
21 heads fresh dill (3 heads per quart jar) or 7 tbsp. dill seed (1 tbsp. per quart)

Yield: 7 to 9 quarts

Procedure: Leave 1/4 inch of cucumber stem ends attached. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 gallons of water. Pour brine water over cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Drain. Combine vinegar, 3/4 cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean white cloth. Heat to boiling. Fill jars with pickles. Add 2 teaspoons mustard seed and 3 heads fresh dill per quart. Cover with boiling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 1 or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described earlier.


Quick Sweet Pickles

Ingredients
8 lbs. of 3- to 4-inch pickling cucumbers
1/3 cup canning or pickling salt
4-1/2 cups sugar
3-1/2 cups vinegar (5%)
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. whole allspice
2 tbsp. mustard seed
1 cup pickling lime (optional)

Yield: 7 pints

Procedure: Leave 1/4 inch of stem ends of cucumbers attached. Slice or cut in strips, if desired. Place in bowl and sprinkle with 1/3 cup salt. Cover with 2 inches of crushed or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Add more ice as needed. Drain well. For firmer pickles, use the pickling lime treatment described above.

Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, allspice, and mustard seed in a 6-quart pot to make pickling syrup. Heat to boiling. For a hot pack, add cucumbers and heat slowly until vinegar mixture returns to boil. Stir occasionally to make sure vinegar mixture heats evenly. Fill sterile jars with cucumbers and add hot pickling syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. For a raw pack, fill jars with cucumbers and add hot pickling syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 1 or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described earlier. Variation: add two slices of raw whole onion to each jar before filling with cucumbers.


Sweet Gherkins

Ingredients
7 lbs. cucumbers (1-1/2 to 2 inch)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
8 cups sugar
6 cups vinegar (5%)
3/4 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. whole mixed pickling spice
cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. fennel (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Yield: 6 to 7 pints

Procedure: Leave 1/4 inch of stem attached. Place cucumbers in large container and cover with boiling water. Six to 8 hours later, and on the second day, drain and cover with 6 quarts of fresh boiling water containing 1/4 cup salt. On the third day, drain and prick cucumbers with a table fork. Combine and bring to boil 3 cups vinegar, 3 cups sugar, turmeric, and spices. Pour over cucumbers. Six to 8 hour later, drain and save the pickling syrup. Add another 2 cups each of sugar and vinegar, and reheat to boil. Pour over pickles. On the fourth day, drain and save syrup. Add another 2 cups sugar and 1 cup vinegar. Heat to boiling and pour over pickles. Six to 8 hours later, drain and save pickling syrup. Add 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla; heat to boiling. Fill sterile pint jars with pickles and cover with hot syrup, leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as given in Table 1, or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described above.


Bread-and-Butter Pickles

Ingredients
6 lbs. of 4- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers
2 qt. thinly sliced onions (about 3 lbs.)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
1 qt. vinegar (5%)
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. mustard seed
1-1/2 tbsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. ground turmeric
1 cup pickling lime (optional)

Yield: about 8 pints

Procedure: Cut cucumbers into 3/16-inch slices. Combine cucumbers and onion slices in a large bowl. Add salt. Cover with 2 inches crushed or cubed ice.  Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, adding more ice as needed. For firmer pickles, use the pickling lime treatment described above.

Add sugar and remaining ingredients to vinegar in a large pot. Boil 10 minutes. Add well-drained cucumbers and onions. Slowly reheat to boiling. Fill pint jars with slices and cooking syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 1 or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment described earlier. Variation: Squash bread-and-butter pickles. Substitute slender (1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter) zucchini or yellow summer squash for cucumbers. Store 4 to 5 weeks to develop flavors before eating.

Nutritional Information

Average content of a 1/2 cup serving (4 to 4.4 oz.) of cucumbers
Raw Pickled
unpeeled peeled dill sweet relish
Calories 8 10 118 117 166
Carbohydrates, g 1.8 2.2 1.7 27 42
Fats, g 0.05 0.05 0.15 0.3 0.7
Protein, g 0.45 0.4 0.55 0.55 0.6
Sodium, mg 3 4 1,106 872
Vitamin A * 2
Vitamin C * 10 10

* Expressly as percentage of U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (US RDA). Other vitamins contained at insignificant levels.


Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2008

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