In addition to the standard home canning equipment, the following items are suggested to process pickles:
For Pickling Liquids
For heating pickling liquids, use unchipped enamelware, stainless steel, aluminum, or glass pots. Do not use copper, brass, iron or galvanized utensils. These metals may react with acids or salts and cause undesirable color and flavors, or even form toxic compounds in the pickle mixture.
For Fermenting Food
A 1 gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables. A 5 gallon stone crock is the ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cabbage or cucumbers. Food grade plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks. Other 1 to 3 gallon nonfood grade plastic containers may be used if lined with a clean food grade plastic bag. Be certain that foods contact only food grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners. Fermenting sauerkraut in quart and half gallon Mason jars is an acceptable practice but may result in more spoilage losses.
Cabbage and cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the shredded cabbage or cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weigh it down with 2 to 3 sealed quart jars filled with water or a very large clean, sealed plastic bag filled with 3 quarts of water containing 4½ tablespoons of salt.
Covering the fermentation container opening with a clean, heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the vegetables are fermenting. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable to line 5 gallon containers. The fermentation container, plate and jars must be washed in hot sudsy water and rinsed well with very hot water before use.
Crispy Pickles, June 25, 2019, Penn State Extension
Food Preservation: Making Pickled Products (FN 1989, Revised Aug. 2019) North Dakota State University
Guide 6 Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables, Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Fundamentals of Consumer Food Safety and Preservation: Master Handbook, 2015, Washington State University
Publication originally written by Julie Albrecht. Updated and reviewed by Nancy Frecks in 2021.