Pickle recipes on healthycanning.com
See here for pickle recipes on healthycanning.com.
Not for beginners?
Beginners seem to be drawn to making pickles, as something that seems to be easy.
In fact, though, getting the knack for pickles right can actually be quite challenging, so much so that many pros advise newbies to hold off on pickles till they have mastered other aspects of home canning.
Alternative learning steps often suggested for beginners include relishes and jams.
The blossom ends of cucumbers contain enzymes that can cause your pickles to go soft. If you trim that end off, with just a very thin slice, the experts at the USDA and its university extensions say that you really shouldn’t need any of the old tricks such as adding a grape leaf, etc, beyond chilling the cucumbers first. Some though suggest you might also want to considering adding Pickle Crisp® (aka Calcium Chloride) to the jars.
See here for a full discussion on crisping pickles.
Pickles too sour?
If a pickle recipe comes out quite sour for your taste, don’t be tempted to dilute the vinegar with water (or more water than called for) the next time you make it. That would reduce the safety. Instead, there’s an easy way to fix the taste: just fool the taste buds by adding sweetener to mask some sourness.
The University of Georgia Extension Service says,
“If a less sour product [Ed: pickle] is preferred, add sugar [Ed: sweetener] rather than decrease the vinegar.”1
Instead of sugar, you can use pure liquid stevia. Just remember a teaspoon of liquid stevia has the sweetening power of a cup of sugar, so perhaps work in 1/2 teaspoon increments, tasting as you go while preparing your pickling liquid.
Jars of pickles that didn’t seal after canning
If a jar of pickles doesn’t seal after the first round of water bath processing, it’s better to just refrigerate it and treat it as the first one you opened from that batch. Re-processing it through another water bath round will almost certainly make the pickle too soft:
“Unsealed jars of food need to be treated as fresh. The food can be eaten immediately, refrigerated or recanned. Recanning will make pickles softer.”2
Reduced-salt or salt-free pickles
It is safe to make reduced-salt or salt-free pickles with one important exception that must be observed.
Here’s the advice from the USDA Complete Guide:
In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are acidified quickly with vinegar…. While these pickles may be prepared safely with reduced or no salt, their quality may be noticeably lower. Both texture and flavor may be slightly, but noticeably, different than expected. You may wish to make small quantities first to determine if you like them.
However, the salt used in making fermented sauerkraut and brined pickles not only provides characteristic flavor but also is vital to safety and texture. In fermented foods, salt favors the growth of desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of others. Caution: Do not attempt to make sauerkraut or fermented pickles by cutting back on the salt required.3
Preserving Food: Pickled Products. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Page 2 ↩
Preserving Food: Pickled Products. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Page 3 ↩
Pickles with reduced salt content. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 1-28. ↩