Summer is generous. She unfurls her leaves and offers up a variety of fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Yes, eating is easy and it is fresh. But with a wary glance to the sky, I note that it won’t always be summer. You see… for as generous as she is…. she is quick to depart. One killing freeze and those tender plants are done producing.
Cucumbers are a staple of the garden and farmer’s market. These plants are prolific and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. But for canning purposes, go with a variety that are best suited for pickling. Some varieties include, but are not limited to the following:
Pickling Cucumber Varieties
- Adam, F-1
- A & C Pickling
- Boston Pickling
- Chicago Pickling
- Corporal Shmatko
- De Bourbonne
- Double Yield
- National Pickling
- Russian Pickling
So my friends, it is time to dig out your canner and gather up cucumbers. If you buy yours from a CSA, farmer’s market, or local grocery store, and are uncertain which cucumbers to buy, ask. The farmer or grocer will help you make the best choice for your pickling needs.
Spicy Cucumber Dill Pickles
- 9 – 12 pickling cucumbers, approximately 3″- 4″ long
- 2 C. white vinegar (apple cider works well in a pinch)
- 2 C. water
- 2 tbsp. pickling salt (please DON’T use table salt)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 3 heads of fresh dill
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 3 small dried chili peppers, such as cayenne
Items Needed for Canning
- 3 pint jars
- water bath canner
- rims & lids for the jars
- jar lifter
- cloth towel
Wash the cucumbers well as there may be bits of dirt clinging to the skin. After they are washed, slice off both the stem end and the blossom end. Quarter each cucumber lengthwise and set aside in a clean bowl.
Add water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a pan that you place on the stove. Use a non-reactive pan, such as enamel, Pyrex, or stainless steel. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid.
In clean, sterilized, and warm jars, place a head of dill, two cloves of garlic, and a dried chili.
Place the cucumbers lengthwise into the jar (so the cucumbers are standing on end). The cucumbers should fit snugly into the jars.
Pour the hot liquid from the pan into each jar, leaving 1/2″ headspace.
Place the jars in a water bath canner that has already been brought to a boil. Process the pint jars for 10 minutes if your elevations is less than 1,000 feet. If you elevation is higher, adjust based on the following:
Canning Elevation Time*
- 1,000 – 3,000 feet: add 5 minutes
- 3,000 – 6,000 feet: add 10 minutes
- 6,000 – 8,000 feet; add 15 minutes
- 8,000 – 10,000: add 20 minutes
* Elevation time via the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.
After you have processed the jars for the appropriate length of time based on your elevation, carefully remove the hot jars using the jar lifter and place them on a cloth towel spread on a flat surface away from any breeze. Allow the jars to cool completely before handling. As the jars begin to cool, you may hear the “ping” sound as the lid seals to the jar. (Sometimes the jars ping as soon as they are removed from the canner and sometimes the ping occurs after several minutes).
For best results, we like to wait for at least six weeks prior to opening a jar to enjoy the pickles. So go ahead and give this a try. You can turn cucumbers into a spicy dill pickle.