How to Make Pickles (Pickled Cucumber Recipe & Best Canning Method)

by | Jul 17, 2021 | Canning, Preserve, Recipes, Water Bath Canning

Knowing how to make pickles is a skill every home-gardener or homesteader should have. Come see which canning method kept my pickles the crunchiest one year after preserving them!

Jars of homemade pickles sitting on a pantry shelf.

Pickled cucumbers may be one of my favorite preserves that comes out of the garden, but then again, between the homemade fruit leather, the tangy and salty sauerkraut, and easy fermented tomatoes, it’s pretty hard to choose!

If you love crispy, crunchy pickles, even after they’ve been sitting on your pantry shelf for a year, then this is the recipe and method for canning pickles that you’ve been looking for!

Be sure to read through my posts on getting ready for the canning season, common canning mistakes to avoid, where to find canning supplies and our introduction to water bath canning.

Common Crunchy Pickle Tips

If you’ve researched at all on how to keep pickles crunchy when canning, you’ve surely heard of the following tips:

  • Use the freshest cucumbers possible.
  • Add tannins such as grape leaves or horseradish leaves.
  • Cut off the blossom end of the cucumber before pickling.
  • Keep your pickles cold or soak them in ice water before canning.

But even after following all these tips, I still have pickles that aren’t crunchy after canning, especially months and months after canning.

Last year I tried five different methods for canning pickles to find the very best method that would leave me with delicious and crispy pickles a year later.

Five different jars of pickles sitting in a row on a wooden counter.

Canned Pickle Methods

I tried five different methods for canning dill pickles so I could do a side-by-side comparison, one year later, to see which method truly left me with the crunchiest, most flavorful, and most delicious homemade pickles.

  1. Canned Kosher Dill Pickles – these are just a quick pickle that’s canned in brine. They’re very dilly and flavorful, but not very crisp.
  2. Long Fermented then Canned Pickles – These are pickles that I fermented, then canned. I’m not a fan of this method and, in fact, didn’t even want to eat them after they were canned!
  3. Fermented/Soaked Canned Pickle – These pickles were a little bit better, but lacked flavor and still weren’t very crunchy.
  4. Long Brine Pickles – These pickles were very nice and crisp after a year. The flavor was pretty tasty, but definitely not my favorite flavor out of the five.
  5. Low-Temperature Pasteurization Method – This method surprised me because of how simple it is (especially when using an electric canner) and how delicious, flavorful, and crunchy the pickles are even one year after being canned!
Water bath canner with jars inside and a thermometer sticking out.

Low Temperature Pasteurization Method of Canning Pickles

This method doesn’t actually bring your pickles up to a full boil like other canning methods. The low-temperature method is only approved with certain pickle recipes and must be followed exactly as described below.

What this means is that your pickles aren’t getting heated up as hot and they’re not “cooking” as much as they do with other canning methods. But it does require you to pay close attention to the water temperature. This is why I love using my electric canner for this pickling method.

This allows for your pickles to stay crunchier!

A woman in the garden with a basket filled with fresh picked cucumbers.

What Cucumbers are Best for Pickles?

When making homemade pickles, it’s important to choose a cucumber variety that’s specifically meant for pickling. You don’t want to use larger slicing varieties as your pickles won’t turn out as crunchy.

I also like to choose cucumbers that are on the smaller side so they fit into my pint-sized canning jars without needing to remove too much of the cucumber. I don’t want to waste any of my produce, if possible!

Three cucumbers sitting on a wooden counter with pickle ingredients in glass bowls in the background.

Preparing Cucumbers for Pickles

Making pickles at home is such a fun thing to do and it’s so great to have homemade pickles sitting on your pantry shelf whenever you need them.

To make the best pickles there are some general techniques to follow to ensure you end up with a great quality pickle.

As soon as you bring your cucumbers in from the garden or home from the market you’ll want to get them into a cold brine. In order to do this, there is one important step you must not skip.

A woman's hands cutting off the blossom end of a cucumber.

Remove the Blossom End

First, cut off the blossom end of the cucumber (about 1/4 inch piece). This removes the enzyme that’s in the blossom that can tend to make pickles mushy.

If you have any cucumbers that have soft spots or blemishes, set those aside for fresh eating and save the firm and blemish-free cucumbers for pickling.

A two-gallon container filled with a saltwater brine and a wooden spoon stirring.

Cold Salt Water Brine

The next step is to make a saltwater solution and soak your cucumbers for a minimum of 12 hours (up to 7 days). The beauty of soaking your cucumbers is that you don’t need to be ready to make pickles right when you pick your cucumbers (or bring them home from the market).

To make a saltwater solution, mix together 1 quart of warm water and 3/4 cups of salt (I used Redmond Real Salt) into a large two-gallon vessel. Stir well until the salt is dissolved then add in enough cold water to fill the vessel up to the two-gallon mark.

Next, submerge your cucumbers into this brine (I use a large 5-gallon food-grade bucket) and weigh the cucumbers down under the brine with a plate or weight.

Allow cucumbers to sit in the brine anywhere from 12 hours up to 7 days.

A vertical shot of pickle ingredients sitting on a wooden counter.

How to Make Pickles

After you’ve followed the instructions for preparing your cucumbers above and they’ve soaked in the saltwater brine for 12 hours, you’re ready to make homemade pickles! We’ll start by making a pickling brine.

Pickle ingredients in glass bowls on a wooden counter.

Ingredients & Supplies Needed

  • Cucumbers – only use those of a pickling variety.
  • Water – filtered or distilled is best.
  • Vinegar – any vinegar that’s 5% will do. But no raw vinegars as this will change the pH over time.
  • Sugar – these aren’t sweet pickles, but the sugar helps with the flavor of the pickling spices and dill!
  • Salt
  • Pickling Spices
  • Cheesecloth or Butter Muslin
  • Canning Jars
  • Canning Lids & Bands
  • Bubble Remover
  • Water Bath or Electric Canner
  • Thermometer
Pickling brine in a large stockpot on the stove.

Pickling Brine

Into a large stockpot add 8 cups water (filtered or distilled), 6 cups of 5% vinegar (pasteurized, not raw, I used white distilled vinegar), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 Tbs pickling spices (you can make your own or buy premade pickling spices).

Tip: Tie up your pickling spices into a piece of cheesecloth, butter muslin, loose-leaf tea bag and add to the brine.

Bring the brine up to a boil on the stovetop.

Prepare Canning Jars

While your brine is heating, prepare your canning jars by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing them well, then place them, still warm, onto a kitchen towel on the counter.

Prepare the Canner

Meanwhile, get your canning pot ready and the water heating up to 140 degrees F.

A woman's hands filling canning jars with sliced pickle spears for canning.

Fill Canning Jars

Into your canning jars add 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of mustard seed, 1 teaspoon of dill seed (or a couple of sprigs of fresh dill in each jar).

Next, slice your cucumbers into spears (or leave them whole, or slice them into coins) and pack your jars as full as possible.

Once your brine has come up to a boil, remove it from the heat and immediately fill your jars with brine leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Using a bubble remover, slide it down around the edges of the jar to allow any bubbles to escape. Adjust headspace by adding more brine, if needed.

Add your two-part canning lids and tighten to fingertip tight.

A woman holding up a pickle spear showing how crunchy they are by folding it in half.

Canning Instructions

Transfer your jars to your water bath or electric canner and adjust the water level, if needed, so the jars are covered with 1-2 inches of water.

Using your thermometer, bring the water temperature up to 180 degrees F. Once your water is up to temperature, set your timer and keep the water temperature between 180-185 degrees for a full 30 minutes.

If you’re using a stovetop this can be a bit tricky, and if the temperature drops below 180 degrees you need to start your time all over again. This is why I really prefer using my electric canner for this method.

Once 30 minutes have passed, carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter and set them on a towel-lined counter. Let your jars sit for a full 12 hours (or overnight) before checking the seals, labeling the jars, and moving them to the pantry.

Any jars that did not seal correctly can be moved to the refrigerator and enjoyed immediately.

Did you make this recipe? If you made this recipe, we’d love for you to leave a star rating on the recipe card below then snap a photo and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see!

More Canning Recipes:

Jars of homemade pickles sitting on a pantry shelf.

Crunchy Pickle Recipe (Canned Pickles)

Knowing how to make pickles is a skill every home-gardener or homesteader should have. Come learn my favorite method for getting the best, crunchiest pickles every time!
4.29 from 32 votes
Print Pin
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Soak Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours
Servings: 8 pint jars
Calories: 164kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Equipment

  • Water Bath or Electric Canner

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs cucumbers prepared ahead of time
  • 8 cups water filtered or distilled
  • 6 cups vinegar 5% and pasteurized
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp pickling spices
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 8 tsp mustard seed
  • 8 tsp dill seed or a couple sprigs fresh dill per jar

Instructions

Pickling Brine

  • Into a large stockpot add 8 cups water (filtered or distilled), 6 cups of 5% vinegar (pasteurized, not raw, I used white distilled vinegar), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 Tbs pickling spices (you can make your own or buy premade pickling spices).
  • Bring the brine up to a boil on the stovetop.

Prepare Canning Jars

  • While your brine is heating, prepare your canning jars by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing them well, then place them, still warm, onto a kitchen towel on the counter.

Prepare Canner

  • Meanwhile, get your canning pot ready and the water heating up to 140 degrees F.

Fill Jars

  • Into your canning jars add 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of mustard seed, 1 teaspoon of dill seed (or a couple of sprigs of fresh dill in each jar).
  • Next, slice your cucumbers into spears (or leave them whole, or slice them into coins) and pack your jars as full as possible.
  • Once your brine has come up to a boil, remove it from the heat and immediately fill your jars with brine leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Using a bubble remover, slide it down around the edges of the jar to allow any bubbles to escape. Adjust headspace by adding more brine, if needed.
  • Add your two-part canning lids and tighten to fingertip tight.

Canning Instructions

  • Transfer your jars to your water bath or electric canner and adjust the water level, if needed, so the jars are covered with 1-2 inches of water.
  • Using your thermometer, bring the water temperature up to 180 degrees F. Once your water is up to temperature, set your timer and keep the water temperature between 180-185 degrees for a full 30 minutes.
  • If you’re using a stovetop this can be a bit tricky, and if the temperature drops below 180 degrees you need to start your time all over again. This is why I really prefer using my electric canner for this method.
  • Once 30 minutes have passed, carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter and set them on a towel-lined counter. Let your jars sit for a full 12 hours (or overnight) before checking the seals, labeling the jars, and moving them to the pantry.

Video

Notes

  • Always allow your jars to sit for 12 hours, or overnight, in a draft-free area before checking the seals or labeling and transferring to the pantry.
  • Tie up your pickling spices into a piece of cheesecloth or butter muslin when adding to the brine, this will flavor the brine without the pickling spices being added to your jars.

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 1609mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 823IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 209mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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