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Make sure your gleaming jars of homemade dill pickles are safe to eat.
THE SAFE WAY TO CAN DILL PICKLES
Canning is serious business. It’s a great way to feed your family throughout the year, with the bounty of your own garden, or with crops from a local farmer.
Pickled dill cucumbers are a favorite treat from the pantry shelf and our latest video shows you how to make them. Follow these safety tips so that your pickles will be perfect, and perfectly safe.
START WITH THE CUCUMBER
Cut the blossom end off the cuke or the pickles may become too soft and unsafe to eat.
DO NOT USE TABLE SALT
Kosher salt is not just some foodie affectation, it really is an important ingredient for food safety. Table salt has anti-caking ingredients, which will pull the salt out of the canning solution. Iodine in salt is another problem, it makes your brine cloudy. Use kosher, canning, or pickling salt instead.
Can’t remember when you bought that jug of vinegar? If the vinegar has gotten old and weak it will not have enough acid to keep bacteria at bay—and your pickles will spoil in the jar.
WASH THE JARS
In our video about making dill pickles, Joe and Wendy wash the jars thoroughly. If your recipe calls for a boiling time of less than 10 minutes you also need to sterilize the jars in boiling water. If your recipe calls for a time over 10 minutes no pre-sterilization is necessary. The sanitizer rinse on a dishwasher is a great way to wash your canning jars and utensils before use.
CHECK THE JARS
Examine the jar rims and lids for chips—and test the jar seals to be sure they are whole and flexible.
Interested in the the tall jars in our video? They’re Weck jars in the 1-liter asparagus size.
BEWARE OF BRASS, IRON, COPPER & ZINC
Do not use pots or utensils made from these metals—they can interact with the brining solution in a dangerous way.
FOLLOW THE RECIPE
This is not the time to express your culinary individuality. Even professional cooks follow canning recipes to the letter. The balance of vinegar and salt, and the length of time in the hot water bath, are crucial to achieving a well-preserved batch of pickles.
ADJUST PROCESSING TIME FOR ALTITUDE
Did you know water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitudes because of the lower air pressure? That science factoid might have been fun when you learned it in junior high but it’s a vital bit of information for the home canner. The chart on the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website tells you exactly how to adjust your processing times for your altitude.
Pick up pickling supplies in our Homestead section.
Join the 100,000 home canners who use the hugely popular guide, Preserving Food at Home.
Take these steps for safe canning, then send us a picture of your dazzling dill pickles!