I once read an article about canning which said Jellies and Pickles were the hardest to try to can first.
And you know what, I agree.
Jellies are hard because if you don't boil it to the perfect temperature it just won't set right.
Pickles can turn mushy the first couple tries, but once you get a good batch you'll never go back to store bought!
My kids LOVE pickles, so this year I was determined to grow enough cucumbers to eat, and pickle.
I guess I was too determined. I grew 30+ lbs this year. Compared to last years 8 lbs!
Luckily I had two easy pickle recipes to use!
First, let's start with dill pickles! If you search "Dill Pickle Recipe" on the internet you will get a million and one results, but remember you want a tried and true recipe. I personally use a recipe that was given to me from a friends grandmother, and it is a hit! But since I want to share safe, trusted recipes, I found this one from NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) that is almost identical, except for the canning part. The recipe I was given doesn't have canning directions, so that's why I went with NCHFP's!
I find myself making Dill's more often than Bread and Butter because it takes less time. I measure out my brine ingredients and get that boiling. Then I stuff my clean quart jars full of garlic, dill, a hot pepper and cucumbers. For my dill's I cut my cucumbers into spears. Once the brine is boiling, I fill my jars. Now, here is where I've heard you can just let the hot brine seal your jars. I think that is a personal decision, since I'm not 100% sold on how safe that is.
Dill Pickle troubleshooting: If you get mushy,soggy dill pickles it could be a couple things. I've found that I leave my cucumbers on the vine until there are enough to make a batch of pickles. If they sit on the counter they get rubbery. Also, you can use Pickle Crisp by Ball to help reduce soggy pickles.
Now, onto bread & butter pickles! I find these take a little more time as you boil the syrup, then add the cucumbers and let them cook a bit. I also can these in pint jars because you can pack a lot into a jar! I have this oxo mandoline, and it is perfect for bread & butter pickles!
If you look at NCHFP's it's just double the other one.
Speaking of doubling, I find that small batches work best for me.
I've canned both ways, double or tripling batches vs. single batches, and find that for me doing small batches are easier to handle. Even if I have to make the same single recipe a couple times during the summer, it still works out to be the same amount of jars on my shelf, with less frustration.
At most I can can 7 quarts at a time, and even that can be a lot to fill!