How to Preserve Cucumbers

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Cucumbers are warm-season vegetables that grow on vines. Common cucumber varieties are either grown for slicing and eating immediately or for preserving by pickling. Pickling is when you preserve the vegetable by soaking it in a brine, which is a mixture of water, vinegar and salt. A quick pickling needs only a few hours of curing, while vegetables are left in brine solutions for four to six weeks for fermented pickles. To preserve a crop of cucumbers, pickle them in jars with a brine solution.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 or 4 pickling cucumbers
  • Knife
  • Pint-size pickling jar with lid
  • Canning kettle
  • 3/4 quart vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 tbsp. of pickling spice wrapped in cheesecloth
  • Non-metal pot
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp. dill seed
  • Canning lifter
  • Clean towel
  • Cut off the ends off your cucumbers. Be sure they are crisp and firm. If they are too old, they will not retain their crispness in the pickling.

  • Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Cut them lengthwise again to create four pieces from one cucumber.

  • Wash the glass pickling jar and lid. Fill your canning kettle with enough water that the pickling jar and lid will be submerged in the water.

  • Heat the water in the canning kettle to a boil, and boil the jar and lid for five minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the kettle.

  • Mix together 3/4 quart vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, 1/8 cup sugar, 1 qt. water and the pickling spice wrapped in cheesecloth in a non-metal pot, such as glass or enamel; a metal pot will react with the vinegar and cause the pickling mixture to turn cloudy. Simmer the mixture on the stove at a medium heat, just before boiling.

  • Lift the sterilized jar from the canning kettle with a canning lifter. Add 1 tsp. mustard seed and 1 tbsp. dill seed into the jar. Pack the cut cucumbers into the jar, and pour in the simmered pickling mixture, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Screw on the lid.

  • Place the filled jar back into the canning kettle. Be sure the jar is submerged underwater at least 1 inch above the jar's lid. Boil it for 10 minutes. Lift the jar out, and place it on a clean towel on your counter. Allow it to cool overnight. Check for properly sealed lids by pressing on the top of the lid. It should be tight. If it pops back up, it is not canned correctly, and the cans should be stored in the refrigerator. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may purchase pickling spice at most grocery stores.
  • Be sure to use a variety of cucumber that are meant for pickling. These cucumbers retain their crunchiness better than the cucumbers grown for slicing.
  • You can leave the cucumber whole for pickling or slice them into rounds.
  • Wait at least two weeks for the cucumber to absorb the flavors of the pickling mixture.
  • Once you open the pickle jar, you must refrigerate it.
  • If you find any mold growing in your jar, do not eat its contents.

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