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Canning Cucumbers

Canning Cucumbers Is Not Difficult

Canning cucumbers can be much easier than canning some other types of vegetables; in fact some methods for canning cucumbers are very easy indeed. Some may not be familiar with the term “canning cucumbers”, and when they first here it the thought comes to mind that it may be something like canning beans or tomatoes.

What we're really talking about is making pickles or relish. If you were to use the same process to can cucumbers as you used for tomatoes, the end result might not be all that satisfying. For one thing, cucumbers contain a lot more water than do most other types of vegetables, and canning them in a weak salt solution, while workable, may not yield the tastiest product when all is said and done. Another reason why we pickle cucumbers is that they are very low in acid, and either a strong brine or vinegar is needed to preserve them for any length of time. For the most part, we tend to use the terms canning cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, and canning pickles more or less interchangeably.

There are a couple of things worth knowing before even starting a canning process. One is, pickling cucumbers are much better for canning than are salad cucumbers, such as Straight Eight's, or some of the greenhouse-grown varieties. Many of the salad cucumbers are too large anyway to simply slice vertically and place in jars. The pickling varieties are smaller, or at least picked when smaller, and normally have small bumps and bristles, which are easily removed.

Pick Them Fresh - The other thing worth considering is, when canning pickles, use either freshly picked cucumbers from a private or commercial garden or from a roadside vegetable stand, and not the cucumbers found in the supermarket. The latter are often either salad cucumbers, or are coated in a protective wax, which you don't want to have to contend with in the canning process. Make certain all the cucumbers you intend to can are firm, and not easy to squeeze or bend, as only firm fresh cucumbers will make a good canned product.

Most of the time, canning cucumbers is done with either sweet or sour pickles in mind. There are numerous recipes for both kinds of pickles. The other reason cucumbers may be canned is to make a relish. Without going in to a great deal of detail, a few simple recipes follow. There are many more that can be found on line, and you simply need to pick one that sounds reasonably easy to follow and promises a tasty end product. Most of them do.

In most recipes a brine or vinegar mixture is brought to a boil, then poured over cucumbers or cucumber slices that have been packed in a jar, sometimes with accompanying herbs and spices. Once the jar is filled, it is sealed and capped. You can adjust the amounts in any of these recipes depending upon how many cucumbers you plan to can.

A Basic Pickle - A very basic recipe calls for 7 lbs of cucumbers soaked overnight in 2 gallons of water in which 2 cups of lime slices or juice has been added. The cucumbers are then taken out, rinsed, and placed in a mixture consisting of 1 quart of vinegar, 4 cups of sugar, and a teaspoon each of celery salt, salt, and allspice. Let this soak overnight then bring everything to a boil for 35 minutes, pack into jars, and seal.

A similar recipe calls for soaking the cucumbers in a brine solution (canning salt and water), letting it sit overnight, then slicing and packing the cucumbers. Pour boiling vinegar, sugar, and spice mixture (cloves, peppercorn, mustard seed and celery seed) over the packed cucumbers and seal.

A Sweet Pickle - If it's sweet pickles you want, simply increase the amount of sugar, so that you have a cup of sugar for each quart of cucumbers. Getting just the right amount of sweetness may involve a little trial and error, but a cup of sugar per quart should get you in the neighborhood.

Don't Leave Out The Dill – The flavor of almost any basic recipe you might come across can be enhanced by adding a few cloves of chopped garlic in with the vinegar mixture, and for many, pickles aren't pickles unless dill is packed in with the cucumber slices.  There are innumerable ways for canning cucumbers, and most of them seem to turn out a very tasty end product.



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