Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to Make Dill Pickles

I was using some of our pickles from last summer in meals this week and I realized that I'd never gotten around to sharing the process for making and canning dill pickles. So, here it is.

The first, and most difficult, step of the process is wrangling some cucumbers away from the little hands that helped to pick them. *smile*


  • 8 pounds cucumbers (pickling variety produce the crunchiest pickles, but I use whatever I have)
  • 4 cups white vinegar**
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt
  • 16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved (or minced garlic can be used if you prefer)
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill, plus a pinch or two of dried dill 
  • If you like pickles with a kick, add 4 whole peppercorns or one jalapeno pepper to each jar


Before you begin, soak cucumbers overnight in an ice bath. 

  1. Sterilize 8 quart jars and canning lids in a large pot (or two). Keep hot until you're ready to pack them.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil for five minutes.
  3. Wash and slice the cucumbers as you'd like (spears or slices- or both, like us). Uniform sized spears will help when you're ready to pack them into jars.
  4. In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic in the bottom and a pinch or two of dried dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar.  (If you're using peppercorns or jalapenos add them now.) Then add 2 more garlic clove halves, 1 sprig of fresh dill and another pinch of dried dill. Pack the cukes down well into the jars because when you fill them with brine whatever can float, will float.
  5. Fill jars with hot brine. Leave half an inch of headspace from the rim of the jar to the brine, and make sure the brine covers the cucumbers.
  6.  Seal jars by placing the lids on top and hand-tightening them, making sure you have cleaned the jar's rims of any residue.
  7. Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes. (You will likely have do to a couple batches to fit 8 jars into the bath, unless yours is a lot bigger than mine.)
  8. Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place. (I use my basement pantry.) 
Wait at least two weeks, three is better- before you eat the pickles to allow them to marinate in the brine.
Recipe adapted from here and here and here
**Since 2001 all vinegar has been classified as gluten free, thanks to the discovery that the distillation process cancels out the harmful proteins. The only exception is malt vinegar. However, if you are a recently diagnosed Celiac, and must therefore be extremely careful with your diet, you may choose to avoid vinegar for a while. Read more information here. I have also successfully used apple cider vinegar (with 5% acidity- check the bottle before you use it), but it creates a slightly different flavor than when you use white vinegar. 


  1. Also looks delicious- but after the blueberry jam-canning stress, I think root vegetables are more my speed!

  2. Fair enough, but the jam came out perfectly in the end so really- what's a heart attack or two along the way??

  3. I have done pickles before and found that processing them in the canner for that long made them soggy, they weren't crunchy when we went to eat them. Do you find this recipe gives you crunchy pickles?

    1. Christine,

      I have had really good luck with this recipe for several years in a row. You know the drill- depending upon the individual cukes, there are varying levels of crispness, but those things are out of your control once they are in the kitchen. All things being equal, I would give this one a try. My bread and butter pickle recipe on the other hand is a loooong way from being ready to share... ! Happy canning!

  4. I don't have fresh dill but did get the dried dill. How much of that would I use total for the jars, 3 pinches since I don't have the fresh for a quart jar? Maybe just a pinch and one garlic for the smaller jars?



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