People who are new to home canning might want to start with fresh cucumber pickles. When canning cucumbers, any variety can be used, but Bush pickle and Carolina are often preferred over other varieties. Picking fresh cucumbers ensures that the flesh is soft but firm, and the skin is not wrinkled. Cucumbers of any size can be used, but those with a length of 4 to 6 inches (9.16 to 15.24 cm) are best for making dill pickle spears.
Cucumbers should be thoroughly washed before being canned, and then drained on paper towels. People should inspect cucumbers carefully while washing them to see if they have any rotten spots on them. Cucumbers with larger spots should be discarded, but cucumbers with small spots can be cut away with a paring knife.
When canning cucumbers, it’s critical to use the right vinegar. Some recipes require the use of apple cider vinegar, while others demand the use of white vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar should be listed as 5% in both cases. Most household vinegars have an acidity of around 4% and should not be used because they are not strong enough to sour the cucumbers. If making a sweet pickle, such as bread and butter pickles, vinegar may not be required at all.
Spices designed specifically for preserving foods can be found in many supermarkets. Alum, tumeric, mustard seed, and dill are commonly used in cucumber canning and can be found in grocery stores alongside canning jars and metal lids. Most pickle recipes also call for salt, but regular table salt can turn the cucumbers dark and bitter. Instead, look for salt with the words “canning salt” or “pickling salt” on the label.
An open kettle canning method is used to preserve cucumbers. This entails placing the jars in a kettle and boiling them for at least 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Many people say they hear the lids pop during this process, which is perfectly normal because it means the jars are properly sealed. It’s still a good idea to check the jar lids after they’ve cooled completely to see if any aren’t completely sealed and need to be processed again.