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Let’s Make Dill Pickles!

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Who doesn’t love a good dill pickle?  Honestly, I can’t tell you, because around here, we go through at least a jar a week!  Kids, in general, are pickle freaks.  I learned that even before I was a parent, when I witnessed my 2 sweet, little nephews scarf down multiple pickles before 7am.  Pickles are crazy easy to make, and if you don’t feel like canning them, just put them in the fridge for a few days to marinate, then crunch away.

Now is the time to make them, my friend!  Summer gardens are pumping out cucumbers like crazy, and you can use any type you can get your hands on, just make sure they’re fresh.  You can use whole cucumbers if you’d like, or cut into quarters or wedges, but we prefer them thinly sliced for sandwiches (less work at lunchtime).  I like to use a whole mess of different cucumbers- pickling, Persian and lemon cukes are what I grow, so I use them all… together (well, maybe not the Armenians).

basket of cucumbers

Dill Pickles

Now remember, these cucumbers need to be fresh.  Use them as soon after harvesting as possible to ensure “crispness”, which is crucial in the pickle world.  If you have to store them, keep them chilled in the fridge, but not longer than a day or two.  Fresh dill and fresh grape leaves are also absolutely essential.  Lots of fresh dill is what makes a good pickle, not dried dill.  If you don’t have access to the dill flower heads, use several sprigs of fresh dill per jar, and you’ll be just fine.  Grape leaves?  Yes!  The tannins in grape leaves help keep that pickle crisp, without using those weird pickling granules. I also add a clove of garlic, a dried pepper, mustard seeds, celery seeds and black pepper corns to each jar for flavor.

Wash the cucumbers well and slice them about 1/4 inch on a mandolin.  If you don’t own a mandolin, do the best you can with a nice, sharp knife.  It’s important to trim off the blossom end, which could soften your pickles.  As you can see, no need to peel the cucumbers.

cutting cucumbers

While you prepare the cucumbers, fill your canning pot and get it heating up.  You will also want to make your brine.  The brine is a mixture of water, vinegar, salt and sugar that you will pour over the cucumbers as you fill the canning jar.  Some people put the pickling spices in the brine as it cooks, but I prefer to add the spices to the jars individually, I feel I get a better distribution of flavor this way.  You will want the brine to be boiling hot when you ladle it over the cucumbers (unless you’re putting them in the refrigerator, then let it cool first).  It’s important to keep the ratio of water-vinegar-salt-sugar the same to ensure a safe pickling, do not fudge this!

Now, it’s time to fill the jars!

packing pickles

In each sterile jar add 1 grape leaf, 2-3 sprigs of dill, 1 tsp of celery seeds and mustard seeds, 1 clove of garlic, 1 dried hot pepper (or 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes) and 10 black pepper corns, then cram in as many cucumber slices as you can.  Pour in the brine, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Using a chopstick, remove any air bubbles.  Wipe the rims clean, put on a new lid and screw on a ring.  Process pints and quarts for 15 minutes, or according to your elevation (or just chill the fridge, if you’re skipping this step).  Let the jars sit a few weeks to get really flavorful (2-3 days in the refrigerator).  If you’re new to canning or need a refresher, check out my Canning Basics post.

Let's Make Dill Pickles!
Recipe type: Canning
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe is for canned dill pickles, but you can just as easily put them in the fridge for a few weeks instead, just pour the brine over the cucumbers after it has cooled. Fresh pickles are also quite delicious!
  • 8 pounds of cucumbers (Persian, pickling, lemon)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Kosher salt
  • 1 qrt vinegar (I like to use 2 cups plain and 2 cups of apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 qrt water
  • 2-3 sprigs of dill or dill flower (per jar)
  • 1 grape leaf (per jar)
  • 1 clove garlic (per jar)
  • 1 dried red pepper or ½ tsp red pepper flakes (per jar)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (per jar)
  • 1 tsp celery seeds (per jar)
  • 10 pepper corns (per jar)
  • 7 sterile pint jars or 3 quart jars
  1. Fill the canning pot and get it heating to a boil.
  2. Prepare the brine by bringing the water and vinegar to a boil and dissolving the salt and sugar. The brine needs to be boiling hot when it is poured over the cucumbers.
  3. Wash the cucumbers and trim off the blossom end. Slice them ¼ in thick, using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
  4. In each jar place the dill, grape leaf, garlic, pepper, mustard seeds, celery seeds and black pepper.
  5. Squeeze as many cucumber slices into the jar as possible.
  6. Pour in the brine, and remove air bubbles with a chopstick.
  7. Place the lids on and process pints and quarts 15 minutes in the hot water.
  8. Make sure the lids have sealed before you store them.
  9. Let the jars of pickles sit at least 2 weeks to get really flavorful.


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