In a pickle? That's a good thing.

Pickling preserves food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. Read the basics in Extension's Pickling Guidelines. Here's some basics to successful pickling.

Select fresh, firm, and unwaxed pickling cucumbers, and cut 1/16 inch off of the blossom end. Use recommended ingredients in recipes: canning or pickling salt, white granulated sugar or brown sugar, and vinegar with 5% acidity.

Types of Pickles

  • Brining pickles: Cured in a brine (salt and water), and preserved with vinegar.
  • Fresh pack or quick process pickles: Covered in vinegar, spices, and seasonings. For best flavor, let pickles stand for several weeks after being sealed in jars.
  • Fruit pickles: Made with fruits and a sweet-sour syrup which includes vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Pickle relish: Made with fruits and vegetables and cooked to desired consistency in a vinegar solution.

Safety Steps

  • Follow directions and steps of tested recipes, and process pickles in a boiling-water bath canner as directed by recipe. Pickles processed in a boiling-water bath canner for less than 10 minutes must be put in sterilized jars first.
  • For fermenting, use stone crockery, glass, or food-grade plastic. For quick pickles, heat solution in aluminum, steel, or unchipped enamel. For best results use soft water and use home-canned goods within one year.

Sterilizing Jars

  • Wash jars using soap, and rinse well. Submerge jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  • To pre-sterilize jars, place cleaned jars right-side-up on a rack in a canner and fill the jars and canner with water to 1-inch above the tops of the jars. Bring water to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.
  • Remove jars one at a time when ready to begin filling them; empty water from the jars back into the canner.

PICKLED BREAD-AND-BUTTER ZUCCHINI

Yield: 8 to 9 pints

Ingredients

  • 16 cups fresh zucchini, sliced (3/16 inch thick)
  • 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 bag of ice

Procedure
Cover zucchini and onion with 1-inch of ice water and salt. Let stand 2 hours; drain thoroughly. Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a boil; add zucchini and onions. Simmer 5 minutes. Fill jars with mixture and pickling solution, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids.

Processing in a boiling-water canner

  • Type of Pack: Hot
  • Jar size:  Pints and quarts
  • Process time: 15 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes for over 6,000 feet 

PICKLED PEPPER-ONION RELISH

Yield: 9 half-pints

Ingredients

  • 6 cups finely chopped onions
  • 3 cups finely chopped sweet red peppers
  • 3 cups finely chopped green peppers
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups vinegar (5% acidity), preferably white distilled
  • 2 tablespoons canning or pickling salt

Procedure
Wash and chop vegetables. Combine all ingredients and boil gently until mixture thickens and volume is reduced by one-half (about 30 minutes). Fill sterile jars, with hot relish, leaving ½ inch headspace, and seal tightly.  Seal tightly if refrigerating and adjust the lids for processing. Store in refrigerator and use within one month. For extended storage, process according to the recommendations.

Processing in a boiling-water canner

  • Type of Pack: Raw
  • Jar size:  Half-pints and pints
  • Process time: 5 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet; 10 minutes for altitudes of 1,001 to 6,000 feet; 15 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet

PICKLED DILLED BEANS

Yield: 8 pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of fresh, tender green or yellow beans (5 to 6 inches long)
  • 8 to 16 heads fresh dill
  • 8 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Procedure: Wash and trim ends from beans and cut into 4-inch lengths. In each sterile pint jar, place 1 to 2 dill heads and, if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations below.

Processing in a boiling-water canner

  • Type of Pack: Raw
  • Jar size: Pints and quarts
  • Process time: 15 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet; 15 minutes for altitudes of 1,001 to 6,000 feet;  20 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet

PICKLED SWEET GREEN TOMATOES

Yield: about 9 pints, or 4-½ quarts

Ingredients

  • 10 to 11 pounds of green tomatoes (16 cups, sliced ¼ inch thick)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 4 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
  • t Tablespoon each: mustard seed, allspice, celery seed, and whole cloves

Procedure: Wash and slice tomatoes and onions. Place in bowl, sprinkle with ¼ cup salt, and let stand for 4 to 6 hours. Drain.

Heat and stir sugar in vinegar until dissolved. Tie mustard seed, allspice, celery seed, and cloves in a spice bag. Add to vinegar with tomatoes and onions. If needed, add just enough water to cover pieces. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning. Tomatoes should be tender and transparent when properly cooked. Remove the spice bag.

Fill the jars and cover with hot pickling solution, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids.

Processing in a boiling-water canner

  • Type of Pack: Raw
  • Jar size:  Pints and quarts
  • Process time for pints: 15 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 6,000 feet; 20 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet
  • Process time for quarts: 20 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 6,000 feet; 25 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet

KOSHER DILL PICKLES

Yield: 6 to 7 pints

Ingredients

  • 30 to 36 cucumbers
  • 3 to 4 inches long
  • 3 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons canning salt
  • Fresh or dried dill
  • Garlic
  • Mustard seed

Procedure: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch from blossom end and discard. Leave ¼ inch of stem attached. Make a brine of vinegar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Place a generous layer of dill, ½ to 1 clove of garlic (sliced), and ½ teaspoon of mustard seed in bottom of each pint jar. Pack cucumbers into the hot jars. When jars are half-filled with cucumbers, add more dill and complete packing of the jars. Fill jars ½ inch from the top with boiling brine. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims. Adjust lids. Pickles will shrivel after processing but will later plump in sealed jar.

Processing in a boiling-water canner: 10 minutes

BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES

Yield: 12 to 13 pints

Ingredients

  • 1 peck small cucumbers (¼ bushel)
  • 12 medium onions
  • 6 green peppers
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • ⅔ cup canning salt
  • 10 cups sugar
  • 6 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons celery seed
  • 4 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3 pounds of crushed ice (bagged), for crisping

Procedure: Thinly slice the cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and garlic. Place them all in a large pot and mix in salt. Cover with a 1-inch thick layer of crushed ice. Let the mixture stand for 3 hours, remove the remaining ice, and drain (and squeeze) the cucumber mixture thoroughly to get rid of excess moisture.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, dissolve sugar, vinegar, turmeric, celery seed, and mustard seeds. Once it is all dissolved, add the cucumber mixture, and stir to make sure everything is fully combined. Heat the cucumber mixture just to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute.

Ladle cucumber mixture into hot pint jars, leaving ¾ inch of space at the top. Ladle liquid over the cucumbers until there is ¼ inch of headspace. Adjust the lid and secure the rims. Process jars in a boiling-water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Store pickles in a cool, dry place, and enjoy them within a year for best quality.

Processing in a boiling-water canner: 10 minutes