I recently shared my recipe for my grandma's old-fashioned Bread and Butter Pickles. Turns out that dill pickles also have a long history in my family; but this time the tradition comes from King-Man's side of the family.
I'm sharing this dill pickle recipe in memory of my late father-in-law, Al. He was a hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, Wisconsin dairy farmer and an adorable man. Not only did Al work long days on the farm, but he also could cook up a storm in the kitchen--quite unusual for a farmer of his generation. After his wife, Marie, passed away, Al continued the tradition they'd shared of canning jam and dill pickles. He had a big, beautiful garden where he grew his own pickling cucumbers. Al always picked the cucumbers when they were small, many of them tiny little bite-sized guys. Those teensy pickles were the ones most prized by those of us in his family who lined up for our share of Al's jars of pickles every year.
Since we'd always gotten our dill pickles from Al and Marie, I'd never bothered to make my own. But, after Al passed away at the age of 92, I decided I'd better start making dill pickles for King-Man and our family. Not only do we love dill pickles, but they are also a sentimental connection to Al and the many happy memories we have of him. I think of that sweet man every time I make or eat dill pickles.
Although we are partial to the teensy little pickles like Al made, those tiny cukes are hard to come by. It takes a big garden with lots of cucumber plants to produce enough mini cukes to fill multiple jars, and it's virtually impossible to buy them that small. So I usually end up making dill pickles in a variety of shapes and sizes. This recipe works for them all.
Fast and easy. Dill pickles are surprisingly easy to make. I made a few batches before I found the combination of ingredients that were the right balance of tangy, salty, garlicky, dilly and with just a touch of heat. These are especially fast to prep as a refrigerator pickle. If you want them to be shelf stable for an extended time, this recipe is also suitable for canning.
Can them.....or not. Choose which method you prefer:
Printable labels, too. Canned goods make a great gift to have on hand, and most everyone loves pickles. I've provided printable labels near the end of this post that transform your jars into distinctive gifts. Make them now to have ready for holiday, hostess, teacher, and friend gift-giving. There's nothing more appreciated than a homemade gift.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
view on Amazon: pickling salt
Step 2. Wash the cucumbers well and then cut an 1/8" smidgeon off of both ends.
Step 3. If cucumbers are too large to fit in the jars whole, cut them into 1/4" coins or quarter them lengthwise into spears.
Step 4. Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and cook until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Cover and keep it warm on low.
Below are step-by-step photos that explain how to assemble jars of pickles and can them. If you are making refrigerator pickles, simply assemble the jars as described and refrigerate them, skipping the water process canning.
Step 5. Prepare the jars & lids. I use pint jars for pickles. Wash the jars in hot sudsy water, rinse and dry them. The jars don't have to be sterilized, since they will be processed for 10 minutes (as per updated canning guidelines from Ball). The washed jars need to be hot when they're filled with the hot vinegar mixture. Keep the jars hot in the canner filled with simmering water. Or, my preference is to put them on a tray in an 180 degree oven to keep them hot until it's time to fill them. I think that's easier that juggling them in and out of hot water right before filling them.
The lids and rings should be washed in hot sudsy water, rinsed and dried. The lids do not have to be kept hot in simmering water according to current canning guidelines.
Step 6. Add seasonings to each jar. If using Pickle Crisp (optional), add 1/8 teaspoon to the bottom of each jar. Next add to each jar: fresh dill, garlic, dill seed, peppercorns, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Step 7. Add prepared cucumbers to each jar as compactly as possible without crushing them. I insert a chopstick into the jar to rearrange the cucumbers and eliminate gaps between them.
Step 8. Add another sprig of fresh dill on top of the cucumbers in the jar.
Step 9. Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, filling them until there is 1/4" headspace.
Step 10. Insert a bubble remover down the side of the jar and pull toward the center to release any bubbles (you can use any long, thin object like a chopstick).
Step 11. Measure headspace and add more hot vinegar mixture to restore 1/4" headspace, if necessary.
Step 12. Clean jar rims thoroughly with a wet paper towel. If the rims are dirty the jars won't seal.
Step 13. Add a lid to each jar. Screw on a ring until it is "finger tight".
For refrigerator pickles, you're done! Let the jars cool to room temperature, then put them in the fridge and let them marinate for a few days (at least 3 days) before eating them. They will keep in the fridge for several months.
For canned pickles, proceed with the following steps:
Step 14. While you're preparing the cucumbers and filling the jars, get your water boiling. Add water to a water-process canner or large pot (with a rack in the bottom) that is tall enough for the water level to be 1" higher than the jars. Bring water to a boil, cover, and keep hot until jars are ready.
Step 15. Use a jar lifter to lower each jar vertically into the canner of boiling water. Make sure there is at least 1" of water over the tops of the jars. Cover and return water to a rolling boil. Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid; leave jars in hot water for 5 more minutes. (I'm using the Ball Electric Canner in the photos below.)
Step 16. Use a jar lifter to remove each jar vertically and set on a towel. Leave undisturbed for 12 hours. Within 30 minutes after the jars are removed from the water, you know they've safely sealed if the center of the jar is slightly indented (it shouldn't give when you press it); often you'll hear a popping noise when they seal. If any of your jars don't seal, store them in the fridge and eat them within 2-3 months.
view on Amazon:
Store your sealed, processed jars in a cool, dark place (a cabinet or pantry is fine as long as it doesn't get too hot); a basement is ideal. The are shelf stable for at least 1 year.
For a finishing touch, I like to label my jars. That way they're easy to identify on my shelf, look attractive on the table, and are ready for gift giving, too. Pickles are universally loved and fun to share. Going to a party? Grab one of these to take as a perfect host/hostess gift. Need a little something for a teacher, co-worker, or neighbor? You can't go wrong with a jar of pickles. Print the labels and stick them on the sides or lids of each jar--easy!
Download printable jar labels/tags. These are sized to fit on jar lids (regular or wide mouth) or sides.
If you don't have a printer or specialty papers, you can have a store with printing services download and print them for you (Office Depot, Staples, etc.)
Click on the label image below to download & print a full sheet of labels/tags.
Cut with scissors or a circle punch. You can cut the round tags out carefully with scissors, or use a circle punch to make the task easier and more precise. I use a 2-1/4" circle punch; it fits both regular and wide canning lids.
view on Amazon: 2-1/4" circle punch (this fits mason jar lids)
Write-on labels are an easy option if you don't want to go to the trouble of printing and cutting your own. These ready-made rolls of labels are sized just right for canning jars and they are dissolvable for easy removal when the jar is empty.
These crispy, flavorful pickles are a must with burgers, brats, and sandwiches. We still are partial to the teensy, bite-sized ones--those were Al's trademark pickles. One bite takes me back to his country kitchen. Al was one-of-a-kind, and so were his dill pickles.
Make it a Yummy day!
Here are more of my recipes that are suitable for water process canning: