Leanne’s Canning Adventures: Pickles

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on September 9, 2011

Okay so I may have gone a little overboard on the Okanagan fruit and vegetable shopping on my way back from BC last week.

I couldn’t help myself. I had a rented car with loads of extra space and the fruit and veggie stands were calling my name.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the fruit and vegetables from the Okanagan are the best. The best. Hands down, no arguing there.

So juicy, so ripe, so perfect for canning!

It should be said that I am in no way a canning expert. My experience started and ended with helping my Mom in the kitchen at the age of 5. I got bored 30 minutes in and chose cartoons over pickled beets. What can I say?

So there’s a lot of steps in the below. I tried to add as many pictures as possible for those of you who are new to canning. Don’t get discouraged. I can tell you that there’s nothing more satisfying than marveling at the wall of canned foods you’ve created.

Yes, I said wall. Meaning there may or may not be more canning posts in the weeks to come. 8)

Here’s a printable canning guide that some of you may find easier to follow. You can download the letter-sized pdf here.


  • Large saucepan
  • Medium saucepan
  • Measuring cup
  • 7 (1L) mason jars with lids
  • 21 quart canner
  • Canning rack
  • Jar lifter
  • Funnel
  • Lid lifter
  • Bubble remover


Day 1

  • 7-8 lbs of 3-4 inch pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup sea salt

Day 2


  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 7 cups filtered water
  • 6 1/2 cups white vinegar


You’ll make a total of 7 jars. I chose to make each jar a bit different. Instead of listing total ingredients, I’ve listed the quantity of items for 1 jar. If you just want to make 1 kind of pickle from the list below, just multiply the ingredients by 7 to get the total.

What you’ll need for each jar, no matter what flavor you choose:

  • 5 bunches of dill weed separated into 14 portions

Spicy dill

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 portion dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed

Top with: 4 cloves garlic and 1 portion dill weed

Garlic dill

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 portion dill weed
  • 1 tbsp dill seed

Top with: 2 cloves garlic and 1 portion dill weed

Herby dill

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 1 portion dill weed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Top with: 1 portion dill weed

Garlic-free dill

  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1 portion dill weed
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed

Top with: 1 portion dill weed


Day 1

Scrub the cucumbers well under running water to remove dirt. Place in a clean bowl when complete.

In the canning pot, layer the cucumbers and salt using about one-third of each per layer.

Add cold water to cover by about 1”. Place a plate on top to weigh down the cucumbers. Cover and let stand for at least 12-24 hours. We just put it in the cool basement.

Place mason jars in the dishwasher and run using the sanitize setting. A lot of videos I watched just did this and didn’t bother to soak the jars in boiling water the next day, but I did both because I’m a newbie.

Day 2

Trim off 1/8” of the flower end (white end) to prevent soft pickles.

^ there’s the flower end.

Fill the canning pot with hot water, cover and bring the water to a boil on high heat.

Once boiled, remove lid, place canning rack at the bottom of the pot. Gently place each mason jar in the water, filling the jar up with the water as it hits the bottom of the pot. Use jar lifter (tongs) to set the jars upright.

Once all jars are in the pot, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 30-60 minutes, or until you’re ready to use the jars.


In a small saucepan, fill with water and bring to a simmer. Add the lid disks, cover the saucepan, and take it off the heat.

Rinse and drain the cucumbers a couple of times and set aside.

Place brine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often until salt is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and keep liquid hot. Keep covered to prevent evaporation when you’re not using the liquid.

After the jars have been in the canning pot for over 30 minutes, use the jar lifter (tongs) to lift a jar out of the simmering water. Pour the hot water back into the pot and place the jar on a towel on the counter.

Begin filling the jar with ingredients based on what types of pickles you’ve chosen from the list above.

PACK the cucumbers in there, leaving about 1″ of head space. Top with “topping” ingredients as outlined above.

Place the canning funnel over the jar and using a ladle, pour hot brine into the jar, leaving 1/2″ head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space as necessary by adding hot brine. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Using the lid lifter (magnet poker) to remove a lid disk from the saucepan of hot water, dry with clean towel and place it on the jar. Screw on a band until it’s hand-tight. Not too tight, juuuust right.

Repeat with the remaining jars and ingredients.

Meanwhile, get the canning water back up to a boil.

Place the jars in the canning rack before submerging into the canner.

Ensure that all jars are covered by at least 1″ of water. Cover, and return to a boil if the water isn’t there already.

Process for 10 minutes (add 1 minute for every 1000 ft. over sea level = 13.5 minutes for Calgary) Start timing after the water has reached boiling.

Turn off heat and remove the lid from the canning pot. Let the jars stand in the hot water for 5 minutes.

Use the jar lifted (tongs) to transfer the jars to a clean towel on the counter. Be sure not to shake the jar, tip it over, tighten the bands, or do anything to disrupt them.

Let them stand for 24 hours. Any jars that do not seal should be refrigerated. (You’ll know they’re sealed when you press on the middle of the lid and nothing pops back up at you. The lid tops should be flat and tight to the touch)

Once the jars are cooled, label them with the name of the recipe, the date made, and the date they’ll be ready [pickles should be given at least 2 weeks to develop!].

So fun, so satisfying. I’m practically dying over here waiting for the jars to be ready.

Have you canned before?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }


Cool! I really want to try canning like this when I have more space in my house. I miss all the preserves, jams, pickles, etc that my grandma was always making when I was a kid.



How fun! I’ve canned jame before, but never pickles. I tried pickling last summer but everything got moldy and I haven’t attempted again. Thanks for the pdf!


Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

I wanted to make pickles so badly this summer, but that did not happen. I love canning and I’m definitely prepping for it next summer. This was a great guide! Have a great weekend!


Aine @ Something to Chew Over

I love pickles so much! I’ve never canned anything before but I’d love to try it.


Lisa ♥ Healthful Sense

Girl I can’t keep up with you… chai tea, california rolls, now canning… I want to do it ALL!! My mom made grape jelly when I was little but that is the extent of my canning knowledge =)



I have never pickled anything before, but I’d like to try pickling jalepenos next year! I have canned a total of 3 times. All this year, too! I canned a mild salsa, a hot salsa, and tomatoes. Definately an easy (but time consuming) project! :)


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Yes, it’s pretty time consuming isn’t it? I’d love to try out salsas next year!


Heidi @ Food Doodles

Awesome! Love this post. I just helped my mom in law do dill pickles last weekend. I can’t wait to get to the market tomorrow and see if there are more pickling cucumbers so I can make some at my house too because I thought there would be enough to share but I think I need to make some on my own too. I know exactly what you mean about the Okanagan. I always feel lucky to live in Creston for the fresh produce but the Okanagan is really where it’s at. I think we need to go see if we can get tomatoes they’re so much cheaper when you want to can a lot.



Good grief girl, you have been busy! That is a lot of jars (that need to be shipped over to the west coast) :) Have I ever pickled anything? I tried it once for a bag of yellow wax beans I got at the Farmers Market. I didn’t like it though (bad recipe). But me thinks I must try pickles now!



I’m sure it is easy but time consuming. That is why I have not canned before. I’ll just admire your work and wait to see how it all came out.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

I grew up in a house with canning! Canning jam, jelly, tomatoes, making watermelon rind pickles, you name it…it was PRESERVED in my house.

The best I can do is strawberry freezer jam b/c I am not about vats of boiling water and sealing jars…ha!

But your pickles look sooooo good! You do the work, I come over and eat. Deal? :)


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh wow! Your house must have been awesome! Freezer jam is just as good. I think I’ll need to look into that after I get through the billions of jars of jam I have now :S
Yes, pickles on me. Come to Canada!



Wow! That’s a LOT of pickles!!! I’m guessing you’re set for the next year or so… =P

I haven’t tried my hand at canning yet although I would love to. If you come up with a nice healthy jam or salsa recipe, I might just have to give it a try!



In my family, we love canning. And, we love pickled Dilly Beans! We got a new book this year called, “Canning for a New Generation” that is amazing! The author separates it by season and fruit/vegetable. She also teaches you how to can without store bought pectin. There’s so many fabulous ideas. We’ve done 14 different batches of things so far and I just returned home from the road side stand with 3 more projects. I love this time of year, but I’m now looking forward to year round canning! Your pickles look awesome!


Meg (A Dash of Meg)

I LOVE pickles :) I have canned before with my Grandma a few times, but am no expert. This year in university, I am taking Food Science and we get to do canning in one of our labs :) I am SO excited :)



I’ve never canned before but just got into making cultured veggies and I love them! Do you know what the difference is between cultured veggies and canning? Is it that you don’t cook the cultured veggies?


Tammy Hanratty

Leanne, I am sooooo amazed by all your wonderful recipes and photos in your recipe section! I am a celiac with many food sensitivities and so your recipes are wonderful. Do you have a cook book? If not you should!!! I have been thinking about producing one but my 18 month is keeping me super busy right now. It is a challenge to come up with gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, egg free meals sometimes!

I was thinking of jarring this fall…tomato sauce, peaches and pickles…looks like a lot of work….

Keep up the fabulous recipes!!!


Nava Krishnan

Lovely pickles we simply adore to go with rice and other dishes.



I love how detailed you get with your recipes! I’m waiting for 2 jars of pickles and 3 jars of spicy pickled beans to age. Should be ready this week…can’t wait!


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

mmm spicy pickled beans sound delicious! I wish we lived closer so we could trade a jar for a jar :)



Ohh great photo of introductions leane!
I’m tempting just looking at the “not ready” pickle – I wondering how u can stand looking at them everyday! Haha ha!
well… I’m not rising my hand – hand down! LOL
Tq for leting us know how to do the canning adventure! Buzzed! ;)


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