Monday, August 8, 2011

Canning Fresh Pack Dill Pickles

On one of the days that I was canning pickles, Leah snapped a lot of photos of the process . . . and when I loaded them onto the computer and saw them, the thought came to mind that they might work for a little 'tutorial' on how I can dill pickles. Some of the steps don't have photos to accompany them, but hopefully this will be helpful to those who are beginning to can . . . (and please know, I am not an experienced canner by any stretch of the imagination, so if you all have any tips/advice to share, please feel free to do so!)

For starters, here are the ingredients that are needed . . . .

Fresh Pack Dill Pickles

--7 to 8 pounds 4- to 6-inch cucumbers, cut into quarters
--3/4 cup sugar
--1/2 cup canning salt
--1 quart vinegar
--1 quart water
--3 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
--Green or dry dill (1 head per jar)

~ Assemble all of your ingredients and canning supplies/utensils. ~

~ Since these pickles do not take long to put together, before I begin, I fill the canner about half full with hot water, set it on the burner, raise the rack, and put seven washed pint jars into the rack. Then the lid goes on and the burner is turned up hot enough to bring the water in the canner to a boil. ~

~ The lids meanwhile are placed in a saucepan with water deep enough to cover the lids a bit. It is put on a burner with a heat setting hot enough to bring the water to a simmer . . . .

~ Once the thermometer is reading 180 degrees, I set a timer for ten minutes (the lids are supposed to simmer for at least ten minutes before using . . . but be careful not to boil them!) ~

Now with the canner and the lids heating up, its time to start the pickle making process!

~ Rinse, drain well, and set aside the quartered cucumbers ~

~ Combine the sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Tie the spices in a spice bag, and add the spice bag to the vineg
ar mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. (I haven't been able to find a spice bag around here so I improvised and use a jelly bag and simply hang it over the side of the pan enough that the spices are all in the vinegar mixture.) ~

Remove one jar from the canner at a time for the following sequence of steps.

Remove a hot jar from the canner and pack cucumbers into the jar leaving 1/4 inch head space ~ 

~ Add one head of dill to the jar on top of the cucumbers ~ 

~ Ladle the hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch head space. ~ 

~ Remove air bubbles ~
(by running a non-metallic spatula along the sides of the jar and then also pushing inwards to release the air bubbles - I go around the jar a couple of times to make sure all of the air bubbles are released.)

~ Check for 1/4 inch head space - if it's too much space, add more liquid; if there is not enough space, take some out. ~

~ Wipe the jar rim clean with a damp cloth ~

~ Remove one of the lids from the simmering water and place it, centered, on top of the jar. ~ 

~ Screw on a band just until a point of resistance is met. ~ 

~ Use the jar lifter to put the jar on the rack in the canner ~

~ Repeat the above process with each of the jars until all of them are filled and in the canner. ~

~ Lower the filled rack into boiling water (jars must be covered by at least 1" of water - add boiling water if needed); put on the lid, and adjust heat to maintain a steady, rolling boil (our stove doesn't get hot enough to keep the water boiling without the lid - so it isn't boiling in the photo.) ~

~ For fresh pack dills, the processing time is supposed to begin as soon as the jars are lowered into boiling water. (Since our stove takes awhile to get back to a boil after lowering the jars, I wait a few minutes before setting the timer. I want to make sure that the jars are in boiling water for at least 10 minutes [in order to sterilize the jars.]) ~

~ The processing time for fresh pack dills in a boiling water bath canner is 15 minutes. ~

~ Once the processing time is complete, remove canner from the heat, remove the lid, remove each jar (with a jar lifter) onto a towel. Space jars about an inch apart and do not tip them, etc. when moving. Allow the jars to cool for 12 to 24 hours undisturbed. Check to make sure you have a good seal after that time, and if you do, wipe the outside of the jars clean, label, and set on your pantry shelves to be enjoyed at a later time! 
(And allow 4 to 6 weeks for the product to cure and develop a good flavor before eating.) ~

And there you have a (hopefully) somewhat thorough tutorial on canning fresh packed dill pickles! If you have any questions or would like something clarified further, please feel free to ask. :) And again, if anyone has tips to share, please feel free to do that as well!

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