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Perfect Pickles

    Pickles in jars

    Article, recipe, and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses

    What makes a pickle perfect?

    Whether your favourites are sour or sweet, tangy or salty, you want them to have a certain snap when bitten into.  We have a full list of crisp pickle tips to read and follow here.

    Given that there are few things more disappointing than trying to bite into a pickle only to have it dissolve in your teeth, it’s worth taking the very few minutes to properly prepare for perfect plump and succulent satisfying pickles that snap.

    In addition to these tips, make sure that all your ingredients are at the same hot temperature when you assemble the jars. Your boiling water bath should be properly hot, already at a rolling boil when you drop the jars into it and the jar contents should also be as hot as possible.

    This is a cold pack recipe, so make sure that the brine solution is boiling at the ready to be added after the jars have been filled, and immediately before capping them.

    Pickles in jars

    Perfect Pickles

    I call these “Fire Pickles”. To make them less spicy, use only one pepper and no mustard seeds. The brine is what makes it pickled, the rest (except the grape leaf) is simply flavouring. I have not yet tried, but have read of variations using fennel or caraway instead of dill.
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes
    Servings: 3 Litres


    • 12-16 Cucumbers (about 3lbs)
    • 4 Cups White Vinegar
    • 2 Cup Water
    • 3 Tbsp Pickling Salt
    • 6 Cloves Garlic Whole
    • 6-12 Whole Hot Peppers Dried
    • 6 Sprigs Dill (or 4 tsp dried dill seed)
    • 6-12 Tsp Mustard Seeds Whole
    • 6 Grape Leaves Fresh


    • Prepare the jars by boiling them for 10 minutes. If you want to “cheat” and use your dishwasher instead, be sure that it is perfectly clean, and add a kettle or two of boiling water to the machine when washing and rinsing the jars.
    • While this is happening, put some jar lids into a pot of water. Boil these for 5 minutes.
    • Wash the cucumbers and rub off the spiny bits if you have them fresh from the garden.
    • Be certain to trim both ends of the cucumbers before putting them into the jars. This helps keep them crisp.
    • Either quarter the cucumbers lengthwise, or using them whole, put them into the hot, clean jars.
    • To each jar, add: 1-2tsp of the mustard 1-2 cloves of garlic 1 sprig dill, or tsp of dill seeds 1 grape leaf
    • Top with boiling brine solution.
    • Wipe the rims with a clean fresh cloth to make sure they are dry and clean.
    • Then, cap them with a lid and rim and finger-tighten the lid (tighten the lid so that a light touch of your fingertips fastens it as well as they can…don’t crank it on with all your power).
    • Do this all as quickly as possible, so that you don’t lose any heat from the boiling brine and boiling water bath.
    • Then, put the jars into the canning jar bracket and lower it into the boiling water bath.
    • Put the lid on the pot and keeping the heat high, bring the jars back to a boil and let them cook at 10 minutes for 2cup jars and 15 minutes for 4 cup jars.
    • For milder pickles, omit the mustard and one of the peppers.


    Wax Beans
    Use Beans, making sure to trim the tips.
    Use Carrots, slicing them lengthwise, steaming them slightly before putting them into the  jars.
    Pearl Onions
    Use Pearl onions, peeling the skins and trimming off the root end.
    Use young tender Beets, steaming them first and slicing them into the jars, with the stem and root ends trimmed off and adding one cup of sugar for each cup of brine. For beets, use cloves, whole allspice, and cinnamon stick instead of the mustard, garlic and dill.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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