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For most Canadians, it’s no longer necessary to pickle the bounties of harvest just so we can enjoy a variety of vegetables throughout the winter. It is still, however, necessary to do some pickling if you want to eat homemade pickles. And trust us: you want that.

So we spoke to Toronto’s Christine Manning of Manning Canning to get the dilly on making perfect cucumber pickles every time. And because we love pickles so much, we also scoured the blogosphere to round up a variety of recipes: quick pickles, traditionally preserved pickles, pickled fruits and pickled veggies … plus a few surprises.

Scroll down for the recipe roundup, but first, here are Manning’s down-and-dirty tricks to tackle canning like a pickle pro:

Follow safe canning practices

Familiarize yourself with the latest safe canning guidelines – like setting up a proper “filling station” and pre-measuring all dry ingredients – to keep your preserves botulism-free. Manning recommends following USDA guidelines or visiting bernardin.ca for a step-by-step guide to safe canning. If you’re in the Toronto area, Manning also offers group and individual canning classes. Why not make it a pickling party?

Use the freshest produce available

Cucumbers begin to hollow five days after being picked, says Manning, and a cucumber with a hollow core will absorb too much liquid and become soggy. For pickles with bite, get the freshest cukes you can find. Manning recommends visiting farmers’ markets to speak directly to growers, or picking your own. Timing matters, though: don’t pick cucumbers after a heavy rainfall, as they’ll be too waterlogged to make a crunchy pickle. Manning also recommends removing blossoms and their stems, since they produce enzymes that can soften pickles in the brine.

Follow a trusted recipe

It’s tempting to create your own, but if you’re new to canning, follow an established recipe like this one to ensure quality results.

Christine Manning’s Manitoba Pickles

“Three years ago at Withrow Park Farmer’s Market an elderly woman came up to my booth and sampled a few products,” says Manning. “She then asked me if I made Manitoba Pickles. I had never heard of them and told her so. She told me they were a family tradition and left my booth. About an hour later she returned, with a photocopy of her family recipe in hand. I told her I would make them and have made a small batch every year in her honour since then, with a few small changes to the recipe to make it safe for canning practices today.”

What you need

  • 6 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric

What to do

  1. Slice your cucumbers and place in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of salt over them and give them a good stir. Let them sit for an hour and then drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium sized pot, combine onions and cucumbers with vinegar and sugar. In a separate bowl dissolve turmeric and mustard powder with a little bit of water to make a thin paste and then add to the pot with the cucumbers and onions.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring frequently.
  5. Ladle mixture into sterilized jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. If necessary, wipe rims with damp paper towel. Centre lids on jars; screw on bands fingertip tight. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  6. When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Can’t get enough pickles? Here are 11 more irresistible recipes:

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