The home canner's favorite sound is the satisfying plink of the canning jar sealing. When you hear the first metallic pop from the rows of cooling jars you can relax just a little, knowing that, whatever the contents of those jars taste like, you at least didn't screw the whole process up.
Whence comes that charming sound? As the hot content of the jars cools down, the volume decreases, creating a pressure difference between the interior and exterior of the jar. The sound comes from the convex canning lid turning suddenly concave as the pressure difference causes a vacuum seal. This seal protects your delicious jam, pickles, or what have you, from the ravages of wild microbeasties.
While I've canned a fair amount of jam, this was my first try at canning pickles. When venturing out of the kiddie pool of jam canning, I turned to Putting Food By, a book that will appeal to anyone who loves the feeling of walking into a well-stocked market, gazing into a full-to-brimming fridge, or that chapter in Little House in the Prairie where they blow up the pig bladder. You and your family will make it through that long, hard winter ahead!
The basic procedure for canning pickles is to remove them from their brine and pack them into sterilized jars, then to boil the brine and pour it over the pickles. The jars are then closed and placed in a bath of boiling water for a time appropriate to the size of the jar (and the altitude, if you want to get all technical). And that is exactly what I did with my mixture of pickled beets, turnips and radishes. Shockingly, the pickles retained their flavor and crunch, the jars sealed with resounding plinks, and while we may not be at risk for starving this winter, we'll be enjoying this fresh taste of summer all the more for it being homemade.