Preserving Cucumbers as Fresh Pack Pickles - Sweet and Dill Varieties

in homesteading •  3 months ago

The first batch of garden preserving includes fresh packed sweet and dill pickles. With the overflow of cucumbers, I will soon be attempting fermented, and alternate ingredient pickle batches.


Cucumbers to be preserved as Pickles

The cabin terrace garden has been relentlessly expanding - despite the fall weather approaching. The bees are thoroughly enjoying this oasis of constant flower blooms, there are always more than a few in the garden with me. The large cucumber leaves provide excellent cover for the flowers and the bees from the occasional sprinkling of rain. Many of the cucumber vines I have coaxed to climb the rope netting - this makes for a simple harvest. I still find the odd hidden cucumber that has grown too large for pickling - fresh cucumber has become the staple addition to summer lunch - so refreshing on a hot day. Previous post about cucumbers and the garden - Cucumber: Garden Update, Growing Tips, Uses + First Harvest.

Below is the most recent cucumber harvest since making these pickles. The Sumter Pickling cucumbers have started to fruit. The cucumber on top of the harvest is a Sumter pickling cucumber variety - the rest are early picked Marketmore cucumbers. The Sumter pickling cucumber seems to grow slimmer, and the skin thickens and darkens quicker. A thicker cucumber skin would be desirable for a crunchier pickle - especially when making fermented pickles. We won't be fermenting in this post though, this pickle packing post is using the Fresh Pack Method for preserving.

Fresh Pack Pickling Ingredients

Pickling Salt and Soft Water

Pickling salt (and Kosher salt) is pure granulated salt with no additives. Non pickling salt often contains anti-caking additives that can make the pickling juice cloudy. Other additives like iodine can make the pickles turn a darker color. It is important to use soft water that does not contain minerals. Hard water that contains minerals can also turn the pickling liquid cloudy.


The acidity of vinegar is used to help preserve food - and adds tartness to the flavor. Low acid foods are more difficult to preserve and often require a pressure cooker for preserving. Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Citric Acid, and other acidic ingredients can be added to some food so it can be preserved with a standard boiling water stock pot - not a pressure cooker (unless your altitude is more than 1,000 feet above sea level). White vinegar will be used for this season, but next season we will be using apple cider vinegar. Both vinegar varieties are acidic enough for preserving, but when digested by the body, apple cider vinegar changes to alkaline - white vinegar remains acidic. The apple cider vinegar will darken most preserves, and the mellow fruity taste will alter the flavor of the preserved food - I am curious to taste the difference next year.


A sweetener is added to temper the tartness of the vinegar. I'm using white sugar as a sweetener for this batch of pickles. Brown sugar or honey can be used as a substitute. They will have a slightly different flavor. Many people do not use sugar with dill pickles - it's comes down to the desired blend of sweet and sour flavor for the pickles. With the next batch of sweet pickles I'll be testing the stevia herb as a sweetener.

Mason Jar Food Preserving Tools

In the picture below you can see some of the basic tools for the mason jar preserving process. Food is preserved in the mason jars, sealed with the Lid. The lid is held onto the jar with the Threaded Band during the pasteurization step where the jars are boiled at 100C (212F) for 25 minutes - to kill any contaminants inside the jar or food that would grow and spoil the food while stored on the shelf. Jars, lids, and threaded bands can be reused after gently washing and sanitizing - as long as they are not damaged and the sealing ring on the lid is in good condition.

At the bottom and far left of the picture above you can see the mason jar Funnel that helps pack the food and liquid into the jar. Beside the funnel is a non-metallic Scraper tool that is used to help remove air bubbles from the jar, and to scrape the top rim of the jar if food or liquid splashed onto it - we did not find a need for this tool for this pickling process. Next to the scraper tool is the jar Gripper tool - we used this to grip hot filled jars while the threaded band was screwed and tightened onto the jar. To the right of the gripper tool is the jar Tongs tool - used to lift hot jars out of boiled water.


On the top-left of the picture above you can see the basket that mason jars can be loaded into then placed into the stockpot of boiling water for pasteurization or sterilization. Then whole basket with the jars can then be pulled out of the stock pot at once when the jars are finished boiling. We didn't used the basket - other than to keep the jars off the bottom of the stock pot. We ended up pulling the pasteurized jars out of the stock pot - one at a time - with the jar tongs. Next to the jar tongs are the more standard looking tongs - these were useful for taking and emptying the sterilized jars out of the boiling water. Next to the regular tongs you can see a non-metallic stick with a magnet on the end of it - used to assist with placing the lid on the jar - we did not use this tool.

Preserving Sweet and Dill Pickles

Cucumber Overnight Brine Soak

In preparation for the Fresh Packing method of pickle making, the cucumbers are cut into slices or spears and submerged and refrigerated for 12 hours in brine (5 cups water, 1/2 cup pickling salt). The 12 hour soak in brine draws water out of the cucumbers to help them stay crunchy. For crisp and crunchy pickles, the flower side of the cucumber - opposite the stem side - 1/16th inch of the tips of the cucumbers should be removed. They contain an enzyme that can make the preserved pickles soft.

Brine Recipe

5 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt


In the picture below you can see the two bags with cut cucumber slices and spears. These bags are filled with brine to just above the cucumbers, then placed in the fridge for 12 hours.


Jar and lid sterilization

In the picture below you can see the jars that have been washed, rinsed, then submerged and boiled in the stock pot to sterilize them. You can also see how the jars are emptied and removed with the regular tongs.

Careful: Very Hot

You can see the lids and threaded bands being sterilized in the picture below. Boiling water is not required for sterilizing the threaded bands and lids - boiling water sterilization can damage the seal on the lid - simmering water (82C / 180F). We placed the lids and threaded bands into the bowl, then filled the bowl with simmering water from the boiled kettle.


Fresh Pack Pickling

After the cucumbers have soaked in the brine for 12 hours, and after the mason jars and lids have been sterilized, the fresh pack pickled cucumber recipes are prepared for packing and preserving with pasteurization.

Simple Sweet Pickles

Sweet and tangy taste - sweet from the sweetener, tangy from the vinegar. A classic with sandwiches and veggie, cheese, and cracker platters, sweet pickles are also known as 'Bread and Butter' pickles. This name comes from the economic depression period - when sweet pickles were often one of the few food staples that people would have available. Sandwiches made with bread, butter, and sweet pickles were common. For these sweet and dill pickle recipes I wanted to keep it simple so it would be a standard for me to compare with the flavor of future pickle batches that will have alternate ingredients.

Sweet Pickling Liquid

  • 5 cups Vinegar
  • 1-1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Pickling Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Celery Seed

Sliced with flower tips removed, 12 hour brine soak, drained

  • 6-1/2 lbs (3 kg) Cucumber

Sweet Pickle Packing

  • The sweet pickling liquid ingredients are added to a sauce pan and brought to gentle boil for 15 minutes
  • Drained cucumbers are added to the pickling liquid and brought back to a boil
  • The burner is turned off

Careful: Very Hot

  • With the help of the jar funnel, a ladle or measuring cup us used to fill the sterilized jars with the pickles and liquid
  • Pickles should be packed to 3/4 inch (2cm) from the top of the jar rim
  • The pickling liquid should be 1/2 inch (1cm) from the top of the jar rim
  • Wipe any debris from the jar rim
  • Place the jar lid onto the jar rim
  • The jar will be hot, using the jar gripper tool or dry cloth to steady the jar, tighten the threaded band onto the jar
  • Set jar aside until enough are ready for the jar pasteurization step

Simple Dill Pickles

Along with sweet pickles, Dill pickles are common with sandwiches, snacks, and food platters. Dill pickles get their signature flavor from the flowers and seeds of the dill herb. A sprig of dill flowers or seeds is prepacked along with the cucumbers into each sterilized jar.


Dill Pickling Liquid

  • 6 cups Water
  • 6 cups Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Pickling Salt

Evenly Packed into Sterilized Jars

  • 8 lbs (3.6 kg) Cucumber sliced or speared with flower tips removed, 12 hour brine soaked, drained
  • 2 tablespoons Celery Seed
  • Dill flowers and or seed sprigs

  • Cucumber slices and spears that were 12 hour brine soaked and drained, dill sprigs, and celery seed is evenly packed into the sterilized jars to 3/4 inch (2cm) from the top of the jar rim
  • The dill pickling liquid ingredients are added to a sauce pan and brought to gentle boil for 15 minutes
  • The burner is turned off

Careful: Very Hot

  • With the help of the jar funnel, a ladle or measuring cup us used to fill the cucumber packed sterilized jars with the dill pickling liquid to 1/2 inch (1cm) from the top of the jar rim
  • Wipe any debris from the jar rim
  • Place the jar lid onto the jar rim
  • The jar will be hot, using the jar gripper tool or dry cloth to steady the jar, tighten the threaded band onto the jar
  • Set jar aside until enough are ready for the jar pasteurization step

Pasteurizing the Contents of the Jars

After the pickles have been packed into the jars, they are placed into the basket in a stockpot with water filled to an inch above the tops of the jar lids. The stockpot water with the jars is brought to a rolling boil - 100C (212F) - 1 Liter jars for 15 minutes, 500 ml jars for 10 minutes . This pasteurizes the contents of the jars - killing all bacteria and spores, molds, and yeasts. Note: For altitudes 1,000 feet above sea level, 116C (240*F) boil must be maintained with a pressure cooker to pasteurize the contents of the jars.

  • After the jars have been pasteurized for the proper amount of time and temperature, the burner for the stock pot is turned off
  • Jar tongs are used to carefully remove the pasteurized jars from the hot water

Careful: Very Hot

Seal Check and Storage

After the jars have cooled, they are best stored at a cool 10-21C (50-70F) in a dark room or cabinet. After 24 hours the jar seals are checked - the lids should indent downwards and not pop up when pressed. At this time the threaded bands are removed and wiped along with the jars. The bands can be loosely screwed back onto the jars, or set aside.

Reference: Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving Canning Kit book.

Have a great day!

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Great post @jackdub the .gifs and the details step-by-step! Great content! Always enjoy reading your post. It will be interesting to see how the fermented and apple cider vinegar works next time arround


Thanks - I always find things less daunting after seeing them done :) I was planning on making and using my own apple cider, but I might pick up a bottle of it in town tomorrow to give it a try this season - those would be some healthy pickles with apple cider vinegar, and stevia as a sweetener.

Oh my goodness - sweet pickles are my faaaaaaaaaaaaaavorite! I wish you sold jars of these for steem! I would have to get some from you right away!!!

I've lacto-fermented pickles before - and done the fresh pack method too! gotta say I love both - as they both have such distinct flavor!!!! mmmmmm delish!

You did a great job documenting it as well :) I actually posted a kimchi recipe tonight... made it last week and everyday it gets tastier and tastier as it ferments! mmmmmm :)

nice post @jackdub!!! :)

yayyyy very very nice work! i know this took a lot of work to produce this blog ... my hats off to you. how did you make your shor videos? i actually like your method more than the double boiler, pressure cooker method. thank you for sharing the reference and wow what a lot of work. there are many diff ways to do this but overall seems like any method equals a lot of work lol how long is the recommended shelf life? ive seen so many diff thoughts on this. one lady i know cans refular foods like spaghetti n meatballs or meats like pork amd chicken and beef combos. i tried it and got a lil sick. i dunno. guess if shtf i might eat anything but i think id prefer beans, rice and veggies. nuts, berries. of we dont have total blackout ...


Thanks - Yeah this was definitely a longer one - so many important steps to fresh pack pickle preserve safely :) I admit I do have a few posts i've held up while chipping away at this one :) I will conservatively give these pickles 1 year for best taste and 2 years on the shelf without worry - although I doubt they will lose much flavor, maybe texture, I'll know for sure in a year and a half or so - if I havent eaten them all. I would for sure be using a pressure cooker and following directions precisely for canning meat - it can be done safely - jerky I would personally trust more if it came down to it.

The video clips are 4-6 second .GIF animations that I created on, with short videos that I uploaded there, then copied the link to the post. It lets you adjust where the clip starts and ends on the video.


@jackdub thank you so much for the info, it coincides with other info i gathered! loved your post so much!! deserves $200 USD!!

fantastic post @jackdub you really go into detail, really appreciate all the effort and time this took.

Pickles are not very common here in Panama, but I like certain ones from the states! I may have to start making my own. Thanks so much for sharing how you do it. Looks like a tasty treat! :)

I am a sweet pickle kind of guy. I have never enjoyed dill pickles. My mom makes sweet pickles and half of my kiddos won't eat another kind than hers.

I had never thought about the need to use soft water. Thanks for pointing that out.

Hi jackdub,

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Greetings @jackdub my foodie friend :-)

Awesome that you provides the steemit community with the cool hints how to preserve delicious​ cucumbers.

By the way, your post has so much infos, details and lovely pictures! So very well deserved up from curator @curie :-)

I dont know why, but now i have some desire for cucumbers. 😅😀

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I don't can but my relatives do. I remember my Granny canning all day long. She would fill shelves in the cellar with hundreds of jars.
Looks like you will be enjoying this crop for many months to come.

I initially thought this was going to be a simple recipe post with some bits of info here and there. I'm glad I was wrong and was able to appreciate how extensive the effort your placed on this post and process shots. The first paragraphs were insightful when it comes to the science behind pickling. Though I get the gist of how the it's made. The small details that make the pickling process a bit labor intensive was missed. Now I get to learn those important lessons again.

I've bookmarked this post for recipe and future reference in case I want to sound smart when talking about pickles. haha, really, this was very informative and thank you.

@jackdub Wonderful all your procedure applied to preserve pickled cucumbers. Excellent how the containers are disinfected so that delicious pickled cucumbers can be safely stored and stored. A classic for me is to place it rolled up inside the chaorma. Your animated images are stunning. His entire work was amazing. Have a great day.

Oh my, my this looks amazing. You had quite a bumper crop of cucumbers! I have wonderful luck making bread and butter pickles but not so much with dills..they're always soft..yuck. Miss my gardens, and canning :) Well done @jackdub!

Wow very well written post and the steps are really explanatory. I have never eaten a cucumber pickle though in India we do have quite a few varieties of pickles.

One of the reason can be you cannot keep them for long, as we usually keep pickles for like 1-2 years.

Thank you so much @jackdub for the detailed steps to preserve cucumbers as pickels at home. I don't grow cucumbers but sometimes we buy more than we can chew. This works very well. Thank you for the effort you put in to share the steps and photos. Truly appreciated.

Awesome post! Those are some nice looking pickles you have there. I made some dill pickles this year, but they didn't turn out quite as good as they usually do. I am not sure what I did differently. I love the detail you put into this post. You really did a great job!

howdy from Texas sir jackdub! wow this is one impressive post! I don't can but from what I see here with all the ingredients and equipment needed and detailed instructions I think I could do this, it's like a complete tutorial the one would have to purchase to get this kind of quality instruction so thank you sir and the only question is do you make videos of preparing and canning other foods?

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You are so patient to be going through all of those processes to make the pickle. I may have just ended up eating them raw or in a salad. 😂

How long do you boil the jars to sterilize them? Won't they break at boiling point?

Congratulations! Your post has been recommended by @goldendawne to be the Global Homestead Collective's promoted post of the day. We invite you to use our tag #ghsc! Come join us on discord!

Great post, and I picked up a couple great tips.... cut the tip off to help keep the crunch. I don't think I have ever heard that one before. I usually do mine a bit different but it is essentially the same.
BTW apple cider vinegar does work well for pickles, especially sweet pickles. I actually used 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 apple cider vinegar for my dill pickles this year and they turned out great.
I can't remember if it was you on discord who had done the brine no vinegar fermenting method that steemcafe had told me about. I have 3 gallons made with variations of those recipes, I'm thinking of doing a video of the initial taste test. I've never tried them that way before.
Congrats on the curie vote, that is awesome.

A whole lot of work went into this, I never knew it take this much to make pickles. Thank you for capturing and sharing the detailed process, you are sure gonna enjoy some tasty and crunchy pickles for a really long while!

I don't know if I will ever get around making some but this definitely is a knowledge to behold (it may come in handy someday). Does the fermented version takes this much of time and effort to make?

Looks exquisite. It's a great way to do some home-made pickle. Pickles, in general, is not cheap in Asia countries and I guess I can use some of your ideas in making them. Though, I guess I will add a little spice to it.