Pickles From Our Garden: My First Canning Lesson

Our garden has been producing some beautiful vegetables this summer. It has been so much fun to watch them grow and eat fresh produce from our own backyard!

I wanted to share with you my first canning experience as we begin to harvest some cucumbers from our garden. I asked my mother-in-law, Cindy, to show me the ropes. I wanted to have some guidance during my first experience with canning. Cindy has been canning for many years, so it was very helpful to observe a “pro” before attempting on my own!

Last Saturday morning, we prepared several jars of dill spears and bread and butter pickles.

First, we gathered and washed all of the cucumbers. Then we weighed and divided them per the guidelines of each recipe. Cindy uses Ball’s “Blue Book” for preserving and she gave me my own copy last Christmas!

IMG_2262Once the cucumbers were divided, we prepped them for bread and butter slices by cutting the ends off and removing any “sunburnt” skin.

IMG_2266The yellow, sunburnt spots should be removed because they can cause the pickles to become bitter.IMG_2265Then, into the processor they went, one-by-one. Thank goodness my mother-in-law has all the fancy equipment! IMG_2272 We sliced some onions…IMG_2276 Then tossed the cucumbers and onions in a tub with canning salt. IMG_2277 There is special salt just for canning… who knew! Maybe I’m the only one…Ha!IMG_2280 Then we covered the cucumbers and onions with ice to chill for about an hour.IMG_2282 It was then time to make the liquid “bath” for the pickles. We followed a recipe from Ball for bread and butter pickles. IMG_2349As the recipe instructed, we mixed the remaining ingredients in a large pot and heated to a boil.

NOTE: We made several batches at one time so our measurements were sometimes double or triple the recipe’s measurements. You can determine how many batches you need to mix based on the weight of the cucumbers you want to preserve.IMG_2295 The mixture was approaching a simmer so we drained and rinsed the cucumber mixture.IMG_2351 Then added it to the hot liquid mixture.IMG_2362 We gave it a good stir and brought it to a boil. IMG_2365 Time for the jars! Into a very warm jar we added the bread and butter pickles.IMG_2368 We filled the jars almost to the top, leaving just about an inch at the edge. I wiped the lip of the jar clean with a warm wash cloth and placed the tops on the jars securely.  IMG_2373

Bath time! Into a boiling water bath, we placed the jars to seal. The jars must be completely submerged in water to seal correctly. Boil times may vary by recipe. IMG_2336

We worked simultaneously on some dill pickle spears… perfect for barbecues and sandwich lunches! YUM!

We halved and quartered the cucumbers to create equally-sized pickle spears.

IMG_2312 Per the recipe from one of Cindy’s cookbooks, we filled each jar with garlic, peppercorns and dill. IMG_2306I really enjoy looking through old, family favorite cookbooks! Cindy commented how old her cookbook looked as I snapped this photo. I told her I believe you can tell which recipes are the best in old cookbooks by how dirty a page becomes. The more use a recipe gets, the more spots and splatters it accrues over the years! It just becomes more special to me!


We strategically placed the spears into each jar as tight as possible, leaving about an inch at the top edge. IMG_2318 Meanwhile, we had the liquid vinegar mixture ready and boiling on the stove. IMG_2323 We ladled the mixture into each jar; Again, leaving about an inch of room at the top. IMG_2326 IMG_2327 I wiped and sealed the jars for the dill spears and it was time for their bath. Into the boiling water they submerged as well.IMG_2336 Cindy and I were both very grateful to have an air-conditioned home during this canning process! It can be a steamy job! IMG_2346Once they boiled for the allotted time, we removed the jars to cool.IMG_2356IMG_2357 And there they were… beautiful, tangy, mouth-watering pickles. IMG_2359 Goodbye garden, hello stocked pantry!IMG_2374Cindy even labeled the jars for me to keep! I was so excited to stock our pantry with some homemade pickles straight from our garden. When it comes to preserving the flavors of summer, for me, it doesn’t get much better than this! Thanks again, Cindy!photoI can see more canning in my future!



8 thoughts on “Pickles From Our Garden: My First Canning Lesson

  1. Thanks, Lauren, the pickling day was fun. I finally have girls in my kitchen to share the bounty and the fun. Maybe we can try some of your corn next time.

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