Pickling Equipment

Pickles are very easy to make at home, but some special equipment is required. For canned pickles that are processed in a water bath the equipment is the same as for any standard canning endeavor. For fermented pickles a few specialty items are needed during the fermentation stage which is then followed by the canning process.

Pickle fermentation requires using a crock, usually ceramic, stone, or glass. Most crocks available on the market are between 3 and 5 gallons. The cucumbers are placed in the crock under at least 2 inches of brine and must be weighted down. Many commercial crocks come with weights, but a pie plate or ceramic plate can also be used. The plate should fit well inside the crock, holding down all of the pickles and allowing the liquid to come over the top. If the plate is not heavy enough to hold down the cucumbers, clean Mason jars filed with water can be set on top to further weigh the pickles down.

After fermentation, or when making canned pickles using the raw pack method, standard canning equipment will be needed to process the pickles and make them shelf stable.

Canning jars are made especially for home processing of foods. Most grocery and big box stores carry them, but they may also be found at garage sales and thrift stores. As long as they are stamped with a name such as Mason, Kerr, or Ball and are in good shape with no cracks or chips, they should be fine.

Bands are the rings that hold the lid onto the jar. They are also reusable and you can either be bought new or at yard sales and thrift stores. Do not use them if they have rust on them, as this can result in a bad seal and food spoilage.

Lids are the flat disks that actually seal the jars. Standard lids are not re-usable because they often get bent or damaged when the jar is open. The sealing rings around the outside of lids also lose their integrity after the first use. In recent years reusable canning lids have become popular because of the use of BPA in standard canning lids. These lids use food grade plastic and separate rubber disks to form a seal and are made to fit both standard and wide mouth canning jars.

A water bath canner is simply a large stock pot big enough to hold 5 to 7 quart jars. The pot should be tall enough that the jars are covered with at least two inches of water when they are submerged.

A jar rack is a wire rack that sits in the bottom of the water bath canner to keep the jars from being in direct contact with the pan. While many people do not use these, there is a risk that a jar will explode in the canner without one. Many pots that are sold especially for canning come with a rack.

Jar tongs are large curved tongs that are used to lift the jars into and out of the hot water. The curved edges fit exactly around the edges of the jar for easy lifting.

<< Varieties of Pickles | Instructions for Making Pickles >>

Resources:

National Center for Home Preservation: Suitable Containers, Covers and Weights for Fermenting Food
National Center for Home Preservation: How Do I Can?

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