How Full is Full Enough?

vegetables series: cucumbers pickles

I received a very practical canning question from Bonnie the other day and thought I’d try to share a little practical experience to help clear things up.

Bonnie’s question is about pickles. Specifically, packing a jar with cukes before adding the pickling liquid. She wrote:

Can  you  please  explain   or show how to  tightly fill a canning jar with cucumbers when  making  pickles.

I will try to explain because I have no way to video this.

Filling jars with raw cucumbers prior to adding the hot pickling liquid is tricky. For whole small cukes you just have to jam in (for lack of better words) as many as you can keeping the headspace in mind. For pickle sticks cut the cukes lengthwise into 4-8 sticks and cut the depth of the jar allowing for headspace. Pack as tightly as possible and when you think you have enough add one more! For slices pack as many as possible in the jar.

Having said all of this when you add the hot liquid containing vinegar the cukes tend to shrivel and you end up with a jar that isn’t as full as it was. That’s the nature of pickle making!

It is very evident when making dill asparagus spears…those nice plump spears turn into shriveled wrinkled spears. Good tasting but lots of space in the jar!

Hope this helps.

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