Making Your Own Dill Pickles

I have been a pickle making fool this year.  And I am sure there are some of you that are probably thinking that you could never preserve pickles.  Maybe, you’re even slightly intimidated by the thought.  But I’m here to tell you there is nothing to fear.  I decided to create this post in the simplest terms to show you how easy it is to make your own homemade dill pickles.  I figure these pictures and short instructions might help take away any apprehensions you might have. 

For those of you who have never canned before, you will need a canner or very large pot that you can immerse your jars in when it comes time to put them in the water-bath.  We will get to all of that in a minute.

This recipe is nice because you can make 1 quart of pickles or 6 quarts of pickles at a time (or however many your canner will accommodate).  The recipe is from my Better Homes and Garden (Red & White Checked) Cookbook. Page 147 in my book.

The ingredients needed for this recipe are per quart; not per batch.

5-6 cucumbers (the recipe suggests 4” long)

2 Tbsp. dill seed

1 tsp. mustard seed

1 3/4 c. water

3/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. pickling salt

* I added one clove of peeled garlic to the jar of some of my pickles.  It gives them a mild garlic dill taste.

So, are you ready?  Here we go!

1.) Rinse cucumbers and then soak them in very cold water.  *It should be noted that a lot of recipes call for pickling cucumbers only.  I’ve used several varieties in my canning adventures and haven’t had any trouble doing so,  but there is a first time for everything.  It is also best if you use smaller cucumbers (in diameter) because they are less bitter and seedy.

2.) Wash the jars and screw bands that you intend to use in hot soapy water; rinse thoroughly and then place them upside down on a clean dish towel.  Put (new) lids in very hot water and set aside. Don’t cheap out and reuse old lids because you will risk them not sealing properly when you put them in the water-bath.

3.) Prepare the seasoning by measuring out the mustard seed and dill seed for each quart individually; then place it in each jar.

4.) After placing the spices in each jar, measure out the ingredients (salt, vinegar and water) for the brine and place it into a large stock pot.  This brine will later be brought to a full boil.

5.)  Remove cucumbers from the cold water and dry them off.  Slice each cucumber in half – length wise, or quarter each one length wise if they are a little larger in diameter.  I put all of the odd sized pieces in one jar and can them too.

6.)  Fill a canner with enough water to cover the lid of each jar you intend to process.  Start heating the water on high heat.

7.)  Loosely pack each jar with the sliced cucumbers leaving at least a 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.

8.) ,Bring brine to full boil.

9.)  Ladle the boiled brine into each jar and cover the cucumbers, again leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.

10.)  Wipe the edge of each jar rim with a hot clean cloth and secure the lid and band.

11.)  When all of the jars are ready, lower them into the canner. 

12.)  When the water in the (covered) canner starts to boil rapidly, boil the jars for 15 minutes.

13.)  Once the boiling is complete, move the jars of pickles to a cutting board or something that will withstand hot temperatures.  I suggest using canning tongs that are designed for lifting the jars out of the canner.  These jars will be extremely hot so be careful.

14.)  Allow jars to cool at room temperature.  The lids will start popping when the seal is made.  This is a good thing!  To make sure each jar has properly sealed check them by feeling for an indentation in the center of the lid.  If the lid is firm then the jar is sealed.  If there is any play in the lid when it is pushed on then the jar is not sealed properly and it will not be safe to store on the shelf.

The pickles should set in the jar for 1 week before you open and eat them.  These pickles are crunchy and have a nice (not overpowering) dill flavor.  That’s probably why I’ve made three batches so far.

Have you ever canned before?  Are you comfortable or intimidated by it?  Or, is Vlasic your friend?

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12 thoughts on “Making Your Own Dill Pickles

  1. My mom and I tried making our own pickles earlier this summer and they were horrible! So salty, we must have screwed them up somewhere. But seeing these makes me want to give home pickling another go. They look fantastic!

    1. Kim,

      I really like this recipe. I just made another 7 quarts yesterday 🙂 You see, I didn’t think I would eat many of these because I’m a fussy dill pickle kind of person. Truth is I’ve been snacking on them right along with hubby. The best thing about it is that you can make 1 quart and see if you like them. If they are what you are looking for in a dill pickle, then pickle away!

  2. Hi Anne! Yes, I’ve found that canning is pretty much the same whether it’s fruit, veggies, jams or jellies, or pickles your preserving. The prep of the veggie or fruit can vary from one to the next but the canning itself, in the water-bath, is pretty much the same. Each recipe should give you the head-space you will need to leave, and there is usually a chart or directions showing the water-bath time. I would highly recommend using one of your older cookbooks that has a section dedicated to canning. I’m a big bread & butter pickle fan too. I made these more for hubby than me, but I do have to say that for a dill pickle I really liked them a lot. He’s already opened a second jar – I think I’ve got more pickles to make if they are going to take us through the winter! If you decide to can and have questions give me a shout.

  3. Eileen….I have always been intimidated by canning. Thus I have never done it! But I want to!!! And now you’ve got me wanting to make pickles! Is that canning process pretty much the same for anything you would can (jams, fruits, etc?). I LOVE pickles and have been on a big bread and butter pickle kick lately. So you’ve got me thinking…….hmmm. : )

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