So, you want to make a batch of pickles? How much do you need to buy? Where do you start? For your first attempt at pickles here is about what you will need:
1 peck of pickling cucumbers
12 quart jars with lids
12 heads of dill
1-2 heads of garlic (optional)
6 cups white vinegar
9 tablespoons of salt
Okay, so no cucumbers are the same size, so this is just a guideline. Jars mostly come in sets of 12. For pickles you likely will want wide mouth tops as it makes it much easier to get the cucumbers in and the pickles out. If you make sliced pickle chips, you can use either wide mouth or regular mouth, but will likely need a few extra cucumbers and they pack tighter in the jar.
Now, what equipment do you need? No need to go over the top for your first try. There are tons of toys and gadgets when it comes to canning and preserving, but really all you need is a canning pot. They are available at many hardware stores and run about $25. I picked mine up at Discount Drug Mart for $23. You can find them on Craig’s list cheaper. The canner should come with a rack. You will use this rack to put your jars into the hot water and to raise them out so you can remove them from the boiling water.
I also recommend a set of jar tongs. These are special tongs that you use to take jars out of hot water. Nothing works quite like them and the cost makes it worthwhile. Since your canner should come with a rack, these are not strictly necessary, but a good item to have. You will likely find them wherever you got the canner.
So, how do you make pickles?
There are recipes for any type of pickle, and there are tons on the internet. Basically, you want to sterilize your jars. The easiest way is to fill your canner 3/4 full with water. When it is boiling dunk your jars for several minutes in the boiling water. Then, put a dill head in each jar. Ditto with garlic, peppers or other additions. Then pack the cucumbers into the jars leaving about an inch of headspace in each jar. In a non reactive pot, put vinegar in a large pot with salt and about 15 cups of water. bring to an almost boil. Then pour liquid into each jar, leaving a 1 inch headspace. Put on lids and tighten. Put jars in canner and immerse in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove from water and cool. Make sure all the jars seal and that no lids pop up and down when cool.
That is the basics. Once you have done it once, you will want to get adventurous!