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Basic Pickles from Cucumbers: Tasty, Delicious Pickles, two ways to save them.


Pickling season is here.  If you don't have any in a garden you can harvest, check at your local grocery or Farmers' Market for pickling cucumbers and pickle away. Pickles are pretty easy to do, but the fresh refrigerator pickles, well you could have your children make them with a little supervising.

--Oh, what are pickling cucumbers? They are cucumbers especially suited to making pickles as their skins are especially tender. Grow them or buy them as they will give you the best results for your pickling efforts. Salad cukes are very much darker than pickling cukes. As you can see on below, picklers are lighter in color, can have more yellowish areas and are quite warty and bumpy.

Nice Looking Pickling Cucumbers

If you find or grow pickling cucumbers select those that are evenly sized and still have lengthwise ridges; they will look almost shriveled, but actually feel very firm. Avoid the large ones that look yellowish and bulbous as these will soft pickles.  Make sure they are hefty for their weight and when you squeeze them gently, they should not feel hollow. For sure, try them in a summer salad, or as sticks for a dip.

Remember also that there are a lot of ways to use pickles, and leftover pickle brine. Put pickles in egg salad, sandwiches (of course), burgers (not a sandwich, it's a BURGER!), or into tater salad--it's almost time to start really grilling. Mix chopped pickles with a bit of chopped onion, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, maybe a big pinch of dried dillweed (that you dried yourself!), a little granulated garlic and mayo--what do you have:  a great tartar sauce for using on grilled fish. And use that leftover tartar sauce as a dressing for some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, it's dang good. There is always the pickle pop: put a cold pickle on a popsicle stick and much away! And you could put some other things on that stick, like tomatoes and cheese, maybe some ham, and call it an appetizer. . .

Of course you could try a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. I won't, but if you do, could you let me know what you though of it?




These refrigerator pickles are tasty and quick, not too much fuss, and you store 'em in the fridge and chow down! This recipe is great for beginner picklers.


Refrigerator Kosher Dill Pickle Spears

Recipe adapted from:  Christian, K. and Barefoot, S. (2015rev). Put It Up! Food Preservation for Youth. Athens, Georgia: National Center for Home Food Preservation. Retrieved from

makes about 4 pint jars

3½ pounds of about 4-inch long pickling cucumbers (about 14)

2 cups water

1 cup distilled or cider vinegar (5% acidity)

¼ cup Ball® Kosher Dill Pickle Mix*

Sterilize empty jars by filling them with water and putting them right side up on the rack in a boiling water canner. Fill the canner with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft. elevation. Leave jars in the canner until use. Allow cooling to near room temperature.

 Rinse cucumbers in a colander immediately before using. Scrub well, giving special attention to the area around the stems. Remove a 1/8 inch slice off each end of the cucumbers with a knife.

Slice cucumbers lengthwise in half, then in half lengthwise again until you have created spears. Place spears in a large bowl.

Measure and add water, vinegar and Ball® Kosher Dill Pickle Mix into a medium saucepan. Stir briefly and then turn burner to high heat to bring to a boil. Turn off heat, then pour/ladle hot pickling liquid carefully over cucumber spears in the large bowl. Let sit until the liquid cools to room temperature (about 30 minutes).

Using a jar lifter, remove jars from canner, empty them, and place them on a flat surface that is insulated from the cold counter with a couple of clean dishtowels or larger towel. With clean/gloved hands, pack cucumber spears to fit tightly without mashing into the jars; this will help to keep your pickle spears from floating. Trim spears if needed to make sure 1/2-inch at the top of the jar is left empty—you should probably trim them just a little shorter than this to insure they will be covered by brine but still have the correct1/2 inch headspace.

Ladle pickling liquid into jars leaving ½-inch headspace (from the top of the liquid to the top of the jar rim). Use bubble wand/freer or non metallic spatula to release any air bubbles that are trapped in each jar. Measure headspace with headspace tool to ensure it is ½-inch. Add or remove liquid with a spoon if needed to maintain ½-inch headspace, and make sure all spears are completely covered by liquid.

Wipe jar rims with clean, damp paper towel. Apply lids and ring bands, turning bands securely onto jars, but do not “wrench” them on.

Mark jars with date an place them in the refrigerator. You can eat within just a few days, but for best flavor, refrigerate for 3 weeks before eating, then share with family and friends! Be sure to keep them refrigerated and eat them all up within 3 months!


And then here's a boiling-water-processed larger batch for your off-the-shelf convenience:

Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles

  • 8 lbs of 3- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers
  • 2 gals water
  • 1¼ cups canning or pickling salt
  • 1½ qts vinegar (5 percent)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tbsp whole mixed pickling spice
  • about 3 tbsp whole mustard seed (2 tsp to 1 tsp per pint jar)
  • about 14 heads of fresh dill (1½ heads per pint jar)
    4½ tbsp dill seed (1½ tsp per pint jar)

Yield: 7 to 9 pints

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave ¼-inch of stem attached. Dissolve ¾ cup salt in 2 gals water. Pour over cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Drain. Combine vinegar, ½ cup salt, sugar and 2 quarts water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean white cloth. Heat to boiling. Fill jars with cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed and 1½ heads fresh dill per pint. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1 or use the low- temperature pasteurization treatment. For more information see "Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment" .

Table 1. Recommended process time for Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Raw Pints 10 min 15 20
Quarts 15 20 25


This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2015.

Reviewed February 2018.  Pickling at the NCHFP  Pickling FAQ




Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Flavors of Fall Class Reminder:


Just a reminder for the Flavors of Fall Class in about 2 weeks!




Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 6:00 AM
Tags: apple (2), class (7), drinks (2), fall (2), flavors (2), pie filling (2), preserving (17), pumpkin (2), squash (2)

Freeze the Bounty of Summer Fruit

This summer remember that fruits are easy to freeze. Many you don't need to blanch or do much to other than wash, dry and perhaps add sugar to (for the best product). Local small berries, if you grow them, are probably past picking, but they are still available in markets. If you can drive up to the mountains or further north, picking both wild and farmed berries should be going on

Summer berries, especially those you pick yourself, or grow yourself, are so much better than those usually sold in stores. If you go somewhere to pick, you are in control of how ripe those berries are. If you plan well you can pick in the morning and have those berries in the freezer or in a jar that evening. Preserving doesn't get much more immediate than than--unless you get the fruit from your own backyard or from a neighbor.

Small berries such as blackberries or blueberries can be washed, dried, placed in a single layer in a flat pan and individually frozen dry or with a little sugar. Place them in freezer containers or freezer bags and you can pour out whatever you need when you need it.



Fresh, ripe melons are fantastic, of course! But melons such as honeydew and cantaloupe can be frozen. Place chunks in the freezer at the height of the season so that you can eat a bit of summer during the winter.





Grapes are great frozen whole in to eat as a sweet, cold treat. Taste first to make sure you are freezing the sweetest ones and they will taste fantastic frozen. Of course you can freeze them in a puree if you want to make some jelly during the winter to warm your home up! And remember grape jam or jelly.






And one last "for instance": don't forget pineapple. Pineapple on sale can be very sweet and cost-effective to freeze. Freezing pineapple is fast too--no sugar needed, just wash, peel, cut it up and freeze. Of course you can jar it up yourself.




 Also, don't forget our upcoming classes:



Posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 10:35 AM

This heat is stressing me (and my trees) out!

Stressed out avacado tree

I just returned from a 10-day camping vacation. It seems whenever I am away the temperature reaches triple digits. This year proved no different, except wondering how our recently planted citrus and avocado grove on the very exposed south side of the...

Posted on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 9:50 PM
  • Author: Robin Rowe
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Pizza and Ice Cream Party Class coming up!

What could be better than making pizza and eating ice cream?  To learn HOW to do it at home!  Attend our Pizza and Ice Cream Party, coming up this month!


 And NEXT Month:



Posted on Monday, July 9, 2018 at 4:22 PM

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