Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600129
USE THE FOLLOWING QUANTITIES FOR EACH GALLON CAPACITY OF YOUR CONTAINER
lb. of 4- inch pickling cucumbers 2 tbsp. dill seed or 4 to 5 heads fresh or dry dill weed 1/2 cup of salt 1/4 cup vinegar (5% acidity) 8 cups water and one or more of the following ingredients: 2 cloves garlic (optional) 2 dried red peppers (optional) 2 tsp. whole mixed pickling spices optional)
PROCEDURE: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4-inch of stem attached. Place half of dill and spices on bottom of a clean, suitable container (see explanation following processing times). Add cucumbers, remaining dill, and spices. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers. Add suitable cover and weight. Store where temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 to 4 weeks while fermenting. Temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit are acceptable, but the fermentation will take 5 to 6 weeks. Avoid temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or pickles will become too soft during fermentation. Fermenting pickles cure slowly. Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. CAUTION: IF THE PICKLES BECOME SOFT, SLIMY, OR DEVELOP A DISAGREEABLE ODOR, DISCARD THEM. Fully fermented pickles may be stored in the original container for about 4 to 6 months, provided they are refrigerated and surface scum and molds are removed regularly. Canning fully fermented pickles is a better way to store them. To can them, pour the brine into a pan, heat slowly to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Filter brine through paper coffee filters to reduce cloudiness, if desired. Fill hot jars with pickles and hot brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as below, or use the low temperature pasteurization treatment (see directions following boiling water canner processing times).
RECOMMENDED PROCESS TIMES FOR DILL PICKLES IN A BOILING-WATER CANNER
Style Process Times at Altitudes of of Jar 0- 1001- 6001- Pack Size 1000 ft. 6000 ft. 8000 ft.
Raw Pints 10 min. 15 min. 20 min.
Raw Quarts 15 20 25
LOW-TEMPERATURE PASTEURIZATION TREATMENT FOR PROCESSING CAUTION: USE ONLY WHEN RECIPE INDICATES.
The following treatment results in a better product texture, but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Place jars in a canner filled half way with warm (120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) water. Then, add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water enough to maintain 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185 degrees Fahrenheit may cause unnecessary softening of pickles.
SUITABLE CONTAINERS, COVERS, AND WEIGHTS FOR FERMENTING FOOD
A 1-gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables. Therefore, a 5-gallon stone crock is of ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cucumbers. Food-grade plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks. Other 1-to 3-gallon non-food- grade plastic containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag. CAUTION: Be certain that foods contact only food-grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners. Cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weight it down with 2 to 3 seal quart jars filled with water. Covering the container opening with a clean heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the cucumbers are fermenting. Fine quality fermented cucumbers are also obtained when the plate is weighted down with a very clean food grade plastic bag filled with 3 quarts water containing 4-1/2 tablespoons of salt. Be sure to seal the plastic bag. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable for use with 5-gallon containers.
The fermentation container, plate, and jar must be washed in hot sudsy water, and rinsed well with very hot water before use.