I’ve harvested a ton of cucumbers lately, so I needed something to do with them all. So for this week’s edition of the Self Reliant Skill of the Week, I’m making homemade dill pickles.
I grew a mix of regular cucumbers and pickling cucumbers this year. A lot of them turned out yellow and bitter. But if I caught them early enough, they were just right. The ducks and chickens have been happy, though. They’ve gotten a lot of yellow cucumbers!
To make pickles, you really want your cucumbers to be small. Like usually smaller than they have at the grocery store. So if you don’t grow your own, you could buy them at the farmer’s market and support a local farmer.
For this recipe, you can do pickle spears or chips. My family prefers chips so I did them that way. Just wash and slice your cucumbers for chips. For spears, cut the pickles in half, rotate them and cut them in half parallel the other way.
Tools needed for homemade dill pickles
- Non-reactive pan (cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Stirring utensils
- 3 1-quart glass canning jars with lids and rings
- Canning funnel
- Water bath canner (if desired)
Ingredients needed for pickle brine
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons non-iodized salt (kosher, sea, or canning salt)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons dried dill
Instructions for homemade dill pickles
Preheat your canning jars in the oven at 220 degrees. Cut or slice your cucumbers into spears or chips. Put the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and other spices in your pot to boil. Remove the jars from the oven. While the brine is heating up, put the cucumber chips or spears into the jars. Once the brine comes to a full boil, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly while you finish filling the jars.
Put a canning funnel into the mouth of each jar and pour the hot brine over the cucumbers. Fill the jar up to a 1 inch headspace. Remove the canning funnel, place the lid on, and tighten the rings hand-tight. The amount of brine you will need really depends on how tight your cucumbers are packed inside the jars. For me, this gave me enough brine to fill 3 quart jars.
At this point you have 2 options: You can put them in the fridge for refrigerator dill pickles, or you can waterbath can them.
Here is the video of me making homemade dill pickles for the first time:
To waterbath can your pickles
You can waterbath can your pickles to make them shelf-stable in case you have too many to store in the fridge or won’t use them quickly enough. We like pickles a lot at my house, but I had so many to process, and not much fridge space. So I chose to can them.
Put enough water in your canner to cover the jars completely. You will want to have about 1 inch of water over the jars at all times. When the water starts to boil, place your hot jars in the canner and put the lid on it. Let the water boil with the jars inside for 15 minutes if you’re up to 1,000 feet elevation. If you are above 1,000 feet above sea level, boil for an additional 5 minutes. We’re at 2,500 feet above sea level, so I processed mine for 20 minutes.
Remove the jars and set on a towel on the counter to cool. They should start “pinging”. That tells you the jars are sealed. Let them sit 24 hours before putting them on your shelf.
If any jars don’t seal properly, just store them in the fridge and use them first.
Have you ever made homemade pickles?
Tell us in the comments – have you ever made homemade dill pickles? What’s your favorite recipe? Please share so we can learn together!