Canning cucumbers for storage is both easy and extremely satisfying. Better yet, you can flavor them however you like!
Growing vegetables takes a lot of time and effort. As a result, we don’t want to let a single piece go to waste. Whether you have a bountiful harvest of cucumbers or just a few fruits, remember to save them!
There’s a reason canned cucumbers are so popular. They are delicious and fairly simple to can. It is even easy for the beginner. Here’s how:
- What you will need:
- Step 1: Sterilize all your equipment
- Step 2: Prepare your cucumbers
- Step 3: Fill the jars
- Step 4: Remove air bubbles
- Step 5: Put the lids on
- Step 6: Boil!
What you will need:
Canning cucumbers by pickling them is the easiest (and one of the tastiest) ways to preserve your harvest. Definitely try different flavor combinations to determine which one you like best. In fact, you might also want to try growing different cultivars to see which ones make the best preserves.
For example, pickled cucamelons have a very different flavor and texture to the Muncher variety that many of us grow. Additionally, ‘Crystal Apple’ cucumbers have a delicate texture that goes well with dill and mustard but isn’t great with garlic.
Experiment, see what you like best, then revel in the glorious joy of pickles with every jar.
- A large pot on the stove (a canning pot with a removable rack is ideal)
- Additional jars for sterilization
- Glass mason jars with rings (various sizes)
- New mason jar lids
- Canning utensils (wide mouth funnel, tongs, lid lifter, bubble eliminator/headspace measure, jar lifter): I recommend getting a canning kit if you don’t have one don’t already have one
- Sharp knife
- Split spoon
- Clean rags/paper towels
- large towel
- measuring spoons
- wooden spoons
- White vinegar (5% acidity)
- Seasonings (pepper, fresh dill, garlic, pickling spice mix, hot peppers, etc.)
- Crispy pickle (optional)
Step 1: Sterilize all your equipment
No matter what you are canning, remember that cleanliness is the top priority. You will need to boil all of your gear thoroughly to kill any potential pathogens. That means everything from jars and lids to your spoons and other utensils.
First, scrub everything down with warm soapy water. Fill your pot with water and place the clean jars inside. Make sure they are covered and completely submerged and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and leave the jars there for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lay out a towel or blanket on a large, clean surface like a table or counter. Once your jars are boiled, use your jar lifter to remove them from the pot. Pour out all the water and place them mouth side up on the towel.
Next, take one of your small jars and place the lids and bands of your jars on it. Fill with water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to its lowest setting. Leave all items in there until you are ready to use them.
Step 2: Prepare your cucumbers
This is when you decide what kind of preserves you are going to make. How do you like to best enjoy canned cucumbers? Garlic dill pickles? Sweet and savory bread and butter pickles? Or do you enjoy burgers or hot dogs?
If you opt for savory or semi-sweet pickles for the sandwiches, you will need to slice them. I like to carve my bread and butter pickles so I can tell them from savory at a glance, but the size and shape is up to you.
Alternatively, you can also cut small cucumbers into spears. It’s ideal if you prefer them as a side dish rather than a sandwich. You can also pickle small whole cucumbers, such as pickles.
Finally, if you prefer sweet or savory relish, you will need to finely chop your cucumbers. The easiest way to do this is to run them through a food processor, but you can also chop them by hand.
Step 3: Fill the jars
When canning cucumbers, the easiest (and most common) method is freshly packed pickles. Take your whole, quartered or sliced pickles and pack them in your jars up to your shoulders. If you’re making dill, garlic, or dill and garlic pickles, add them to your jars at the same time you add the cucumbers. I use about 1 tbsp fresh dill and 2 halved garlic cloves in each quart jar, but season to taste.
Once they are packed, you will add your brine. There are many different recipes for pickle brine, so it’s a good idea to experiment with flavorings to see which you like best. The ones I use are taken from the Ball Blue Book and are as follows:
Dill Pickle Brine
- 4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 4 cups of water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice (depending on your choice)
- Fresh dill, garlic, etc. (optional, as mentioned before)
Combine all ingredients except fresh dill/garlic in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and reduce to low heat for 10 minutes. Next, place your wide-mouth funnel over a jar and pour this brine into it, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Repeat this process until all the jars are filled. You may need to make a few batches of brine if you are canning a large number of cucumbers. Go this route rather than doubling or tripling the original amount of brine.
Pickle bread and butter
- 3 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1/3 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons of celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then pour into your jars via the method mentioned above. Leave 1/2 inch of free space.
Pickle Crisp is an optional additive, so you don’t absolutely have to use it. That said, it makes for crispy, crunchy pickles rather than soft, soggy pickles. It’s your call. If you decide to use it, add 1/4 teaspoon to each quart-sized jar before adding the brine, or 1/8 teaspoon for pint-sized jars.
There are, of course, several types of relish you can make, so definitely try different recipes to find one you like. The most common and popular is a little sweet, a little salty and glorious on burgers.
The canning process for relish is a bit different, as you will need to mince it and cook it before storing it in the jars. Once you find a recipe you like, make a large batch so you have enough on hand.
Step 4: Remove air bubbles
This step is imperative no matter what you are canning. Take your debubbler and slide it all around the inside of the jars. Push the contents around and watch the trapped bubbles rise to the surface. You’ll want to remove as many of these as possible so they don’t ruin your joint or cause potential contamination issues.
When you’re done, check that you still have 1/2 inch of free space left in each jar. If it’s too low, add a little extra brine to fill it up. Better a little too much liquid than too little.
Step 5: Put the lids on
When you can cucumbers (or literally anything else), it’s inevitable that you’ll get some of the contents on the lips of the jars. Take clean paper towels or dishcloths and dip them in one of the jars. Use this warm, moist towel to wipe lips and jar threads. This will allow the lids to create a good seal.
Then use your pot lid lifter (the stick with the magnet) to remove a new lid from the simmer pot. Place it rubber side up on the freshly cleaned jar and press it into place. Then use this lifter to remove a clamp band from the water and place it on the lid of the jar. Twist it in place until it’s fingertip tight and move on to the next jar.
Never use tools to tighten these bands, or overtighten them. This is because they need a bit of freedom to expand and contract during the boiling water bath.
Step 6: Boil!
Once the lids are all in place, use your jar lifter to move the jars into the large canning jar. Make sure the jars are not touching each other, as they will vibrate when the water boils. If they are too close together, they may break. For added security, you can place washcloths or sponges between them as spacers.
Once the jars are in place, make sure they are covered with at least an inch of water. I usually add a little more just to be sure. Then bring the water to a full boil.
Treat pint-sized jars for 15 minutes and quart-sized jars for 30 minutes. Then, use your jar lifter to remove them from the water and place them on the towel-covered surface. Let them cool completely, 12 to 24 hours.
You’ll know they’re properly sealed when you hear them **POP** closed. Just be sure to check the lids to make sure they are concave, indicating a tight seal.
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