Pickling Pickles

(Karen) During the summer time pickles are a great way to preserve cucumbers. And lots of people grow a lot of cucumbers, so knowing how to pickle ’em right is the best way to go, so you can save ’em for later use. So, the first thing you want to do is start off with good recipes. We have a publication called Preserving Cucumbers, great recipes, will give you a great end result. It’s best to preserve your cucumbers the same day that you pick them. That way you get the best quality pickle in the end. One thing you need to do with your cucumbers is always cut off the blossom end. The blossom end of your cucumber contains an enzyme that can cause softening of your pickles in the end. So, you always want to cut off about a sixteenth of an inch of the blossom end of the cucumber. The other basic ingredient in pickles includes salt and vinegar and spices. So for pickling it’s best to use canning and pickling salt. All the pickle recipes are based on this type of salt. The next thing you need to have is good vinegar and it should say 5 percent acidity on it. That’s what you need for pickling. And you use can use white vinegar, or cider apple vinegar. And then spices-the fresher the better. Always buy new spices every year. For dill pickles, of course you can use heads of freshly grown dill, or you can buy dill seed. There’s also pickling spices that are already mixed together. Couple other things that you might use in some of your recipes are firming agents. One of them that’s been used for a long, long time is pickling lime and this makes a nice, crunchy pickle. And then to help it make the whole pickling process even easier are these packaged mixes that you’ll see. Pickles are typically canned in either pints or quart jars; there’s also a jar in between that which is a pint and a half. And then all your pickles should be processed in a boiling water bath canner. This is the safest way to get rid of yeast and mold and any enzymes that might be active inside your cucumber. Plus you can store your pickles by doing this for up to one year. So, after you’ve put your cucumbers and your pickles through your water bath canner, you want to let them cool completely for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours. Always check the seal, make sure your jars are sealed well. Remove the rings, and clean up your jars, make sure there’s no residue left over. And then you can store them in your cabinet. A cool, dry, dark location is best because light and temperature changes can affect quality and the safety of your pickled products and any of your canned products that you make at home. There’s also refrigerator and freezer type pickles. Those are just packed into the jars and then you store them in the refrigerator or the freezer. They never go through a boiling water bath canner. For refrigerator ones, you would use those within a month. For freezer ones, you could store ’em for three or four months. Our best recommendation is to use your pickles or any of your home canned food within one year.

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