Over 15 years ago, I went from a small garden in the back yard (or in pots) according to where ever I was at the time, to a large garden spot that has been permanent ever since. I had helped my mother and grandma can over the years growing up and had collected or bought all the necesary canning equipment. It was now my turn! First up, was crisp dill pickles using my cucumbers. I experimented with a few batches (with some results better than others) and eventually learned a few, very important tips that I'd love to pass on to you. I've since pickled beets, beans (dilly), asparagus, and peppers. This year I want to try an Italian blend with cabbage, carrots, garlic, peppers, and cauliflower. I am definitely not a pro, but these few things might help. Let me know if you have other things that have helped in pickling. The most KEY advice I can give you is WATER!! *don't use city water that has been treated or well water that has ran through a softener. This is a sure way to end up with soggy, pickled veggies! (most especially cucumbers) When I first started, I would actually haul water up from my parents' well down in the Magic Valley of Idaho, but since have found a source here on our place that has decent water, unaltered (our water table here is a struggle with lots of sulpher). You can also buy many types of water. There are a few different sources here in the Treasure Valley. Other tips include... *Making sure the veggies are nice and dry (either air dried or patted dry with a towel) after you rinse the dirt off, never water logged, before putting them in the jar and adding brine *Steam canning them just long enough to seal the jars and not longer than that (this is kind of a variable with your individual set up, but I like to go no longer than 10 minutes on most things) *Using alum? And what about salts?I have found there is not a lot of difference in crispness when using alum in pickling, so I prefer not to use it/eat it. As for salts, I have used sea salt, natural Redmond salt, pickling salt, and more. There is not a huge difference. The Redmond salt will not dissolve as well in the brine, so just be aware. It still tastes good! It will just show up as a brown color sometimes in the jar (almost like sand). Hope this helps in pursuit of your perfect, crisp pickle!