One of the things I was looking forward to when moving to Eastern Tennessee was having a big garden. My husband built me 4 large garden boxes last March and we got very busy planting all the vegetables we could think of. The most bountiful crop came from the cucumbers we planted. They went nuts! By June I had so many cucumbers I was picking 9 or 10 a day! I knew I had to do something with them besides putting them in salad, so I delved into the world of canning. How did I not know that making dill pickles was so easy?!
Step 1: Prepare Spices and Vinegar
Let me preface by saying that this recipe is for 4 pounds of cucumbers, or 8 pint jars full (or 4 quarts). You may only need to use half of the proportions if you’re not a cucumber hoarder like me, lol.
The first step is to prepare your spices and vinegar. You’ll need the following:
4 teaspoons dill seed
2 teaspoons dill weed
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
4 Tablespoons Kosher salt
Then you’ll need to fill a large pot with 4.5 cups of water and 4.5 cups of white vinegar. You can also use apple cider vinegar. I tried both and can’t decide which I prefer so either is fine! Pour all your spices into the pot and begin to heat it over medium-high heat until it boils. I kept the lid on my pot to speed up the process and to downplay the vinegar smell that seems to permeate the house when canning.
Step 2: Prepare Cucumbers
First, wash the cucumbers and cut the ends off. Then cut them in half lengthwise and turn them upside down so that the skin is facing you and the seeds are against the cutting board.
Cut each half into spears, probably 4-5 strips per half depending on how thick you like your dill pickles. Keep in mind that these spears need to fit into pint or quart sized jars with atleast a 1/4 inch of space from the lid.
I pulled out my pint jars to make sure they all fit. If you have extra large cucumbers, use 4 quart sized jars.
Once you have measured the cucumbers, return them all to an extra large bowl. When the vinegar mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for five minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of any spices. Pour all that liquid over the cucumbers you have sitting in the large bowl. Let them marinate with the spices until they cool to room temperature.
Once that is done, you can begin packing the jars with the dill pickles. (Make sure they are cooled so you don’t burn yourself!) At the end, ladle the liquid and spices into the jars. Use a funnel over the jars so you can keep all that precious liquid.
You’ll notice the spices settling to the bottom of the bowl, so be sure to mix the vinegar between each scoop. I used a ladle to make sure each of my jars had plenty of the spices. Fill each jar nearly full, leaving about a 1/4 inch of head space. Put the lids on, but don’t twist them super tight just yet.
Step 3: Store the Dill Pickles
Now you need to decide how you want to store the dill pickles. Do you want 3 month refrigerator pickles or year long shelf dill pickles?
3 Month Refrigerator Dill Pickles
For my first several batches, I pressed the top lid down and then screwed the band on tight. Even though they are not completely sealed, the dill pickles will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 months. They taste best when they have sat for at least 4 weeks.
1 Year Shelf Dill Pickles
It wasn’t long until I realized I would have more dill pickles than my family could eat in 3 months. So I decided to use the water bath method to seal the mason jars and preserve the pickles for up to a year.
I put as many pint jars as would fit into my largest pot and covered the jars with water. I filled it until there was about 1 inch of extra water above each jar.
Then I pulled out the dill pickles and heated the water until it was boiling.
Once boiling, I put the dill pickle jars back into the water and let them boil for 10 minutes. Quart jars need 15 minutes.
Once that was done, I turned off the heat and let the jars sit for a few minutes.
Finally, I removed the dill pickles and let them cool on the counter until they reached room temperature. Be careful when removing the jars since they will be extremely hot and there will be water on the lid!
There is no denying that this process is time consuming, especially if you choose to preserve the dill pickles with the water bath method. But I have found that there is immense joy in knowing that I didn’t let God’s beautiful produce go to waste. It has also been fun to give the dill pickles as a gift. A jar of these and another of my Homemade Cilantro-Lime Salsa might make a good Christmas present for my neighbors and friends!
If you’re wondering what canning supplies I used, they were pretty simple:
If you really want to get into canning, Ball sells their 350 recipe book for only $16 and has great recipes and tutorials. This is the book I have and it has been very helpful since venturing out into the world of canning. There are also great recipes I have saved on my Easy Canning Pinterest board that you can follow just below. Whether it’s these dill pickles or you are canning something else, I hope you enjoy the process. Happy cooking y’all!
- 4 lbs cucumbers
- 4 tsp dill seed
- 2 tsp dill weed
- 4 tsp minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 4 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 4.5 cups water
- 4.5 cups white vinegar
- Fill a large pot with all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes.
- Cut cucumbers into spears and set into a large bowl. Make sure they fit properly in each jar.
- Pour the liquid and spices over the cucumbers and let them cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, fit the spears into sterilized pint or quart sized canning jars.
- Use a ladle and a funnel to ladle the vinegar and spices into each jar.
- Make sure each jar gets enough spices. They may settle to the bottom of the bowl.
- Fill the jars with the liquid leaving about ¼ inch of space from the lid.
- Press the lid down firmly and tighten the band.
- Cool in the refrigerator for 4 weeks before serving. Pickles are good for up to 3 months.
- Optional: Follow the water bath canning method to preserve the pickles for up to a year.