What Are the Best Tips for Canning Cucumbers?

Misty Amber Brighton

People who are new to home canning may want to try making their own pickles from fresh cucumbers. Any variety of this vegetable can be used when canning cucumbers, but Bush pickle and Carolina often taste better than other varieties do. It is a good idea to pick fresh cucumbers in order to ensure that the flesh is soft yet firm and the skin is not overly wrinkled. Any size cucumber can be used, but ones that are around 4- to 6-inches-long (9.16 to 15.24 cm) might be best for creating dill pickle spears.

Tumeric is often used for canning cucumbers.
Tumeric is often used for canning cucumbers.

Before canning cucumbers, this crop should be washed thoroughly and then placed on paper towels to drain. While people are washing their cucumbers, they should carefully inspect these vegetables in order to see if there are any rotten spots on them. If this spot is very small, it can be cut away with a paring knife, but cucumbers with larger spots should be discarded.

A canning jar of pickled cornichons, a type of cucumber.
A canning jar of pickled cornichons, a type of cucumber.

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It is important to use the right kind of vinegar when canning cucumbers. Some recipes may call for apple cider vinegar, while others require cooks to use white vinegar. In either case, the acidity of the vinegar should be listed as 5%. Most household vinegars are around 4% acidity, and these should not be used because they are not strong enough to make the cucumbers taste sour. People may not need to use vinegar at all if they are making a sweet type such as bread and butter pickles.

Canning salt.
Canning salt.

Many supermarkets carry spices intended especially for preserving foods. Alum, tumeric, mustard seed, and dill are often used in canning cucumbers and can usually be purchased at a grocery store along with canning jars and metal lids. Salt is also required in most pickle recipes, but regular table salt may make the cucumbers dark and bitter tasting. It is a good idea to choose salt that is labeled as "canning salt" or "pickling salt" instead.

Cucumbers on the vine.
Cucumbers on the vine.

Cucumbers are preserved using an open kettle canning method. This means the jars are placed into a kettle and then boiled for at least 10 minutes in order to kill any bacteria. Many people report hearing the lids pop during this process, and this is completely normal as it indicates the jars are sealing properly. It can still be a good idea to check the jar lids once they have completely cooled so that any that are not completely sealed can be processed again.

A cucumber.
A cucumber.
Using table salt for canning can discolor the cucumbers and make them bitter.
Using table salt for canning can discolor the cucumbers and make them bitter.
Dill is commonly used to flavor pickled cucumbers.
Dill is commonly used to flavor pickled cucumbers.

Discussion Comments

turquoise

@burcinc-- If you don't have enough cucumbers for canning and need to wait a day or two for more, you can keep the cucumbers fresh and crisp while the new ones arrive by keeping them in brine. You just need a cup of salt for eight cups water for the brine. Keep the cucumbers in there and when you have enough, go ahead and can them.

You also have to make sure that you are not putting too much salt in the can or that you're not cooking the pickles for too long. Otherwise you might end up with mushy and extremely salty pickles that are unpalatable.

literally45

@burcinc-- Did you use pickling cucumbers? If you used the regular cucumbers meant for eating fresh, the pickles can come out mushy.

Also, were the cucumbers fresh? If you don't use fresh cucumbers, the pickles also don't come out crisp.

I always use pickling cucumbers and use a brine of white vinegar, rock salt and sometimes pickling lime. After I pick the cucumbers, I put them in ice water for several hours which keeps the cucumbers crisp during the brining process.

Follow these tips next time and I'm sure that your canned cucumbers will come out good.

burcinc

I made cucumber pickles for the first time in my life with just apple cider vinegar and salt. The pickles tasted good at first but then suddenly became very soft and mushy. It was like they broke down.

What could I have done wrong?

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