Canning foods is an extension of sustainable living, shopping at the farmers market, and reusing packaging materials. It is one of my favourite ways to preserve food, and reuse old store bought pickle jars. With all the cucumbers growing in my garden this year, I had to share my favourite pickle recipe, both for simple fridge pickles and sealed jars. My original inspiration for this recipe came from a food blog called The Yummy Life. I’ve altered a few ingredients to my own preferences, but you can check their ingredient list and process here if you are curious.
Homemade Dill Pickles
First off, if you are making pickles from scratch, there are a few MUST DO’s that will increase your success for your pickles. The number one key to successful pickles is using fresh and local ingredients. The best pickles I have made (which used the exact same recipe as other experiences), included dill picked from my garden, garlic sourced at a nearby farm, and pickling cucumbers from both the farmer’s market and my garden. Don’t settle for anything less than fresh and local, bottom line! Secondly, if possible use pickling cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers typically do not grow as large and also end up with smaller seeds. They make for crunchier pickles without using pickle crisp additives, and take on flavour very well. You can still use regular cucumbers for this recipe if needed, but just expect a less crunchy pickle. You can also use zucchini and carrots for this recipe too.
Fridge Pickles vs. Sealed Pickles
The process for making fridge and sealed pickles is virtually the same. Sealing the jars requires one extra step called a water bath, where the jars are placed in water and boiled for 15 minutes to ensure the jars seal. Fridge pickles are a great choice if you plan to only be eating them yourself and are making 2-3 jars at one time, consuming them within a few months. This method can also be done in any container, meaning there is opportunity to reuse old jars.
Homemade Dill Pickle Recipe
4 cups water 3 cups pickling vinegar ¼ cup pickling salt * 1 – 1 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
9 tsp dill seed ** Fresh dill (sprigs and flowers) 12 Fresh garlic cloves (2 – 3 cloves per jar) Pickling cucumbers – sliced any way you like
* Pickling salt is what I use, and you can purchase a large box from any grocery store. It will last you many seasons worth of pickles. Regular table salt is NOT a good option for pickling.
** Each jar needs at least 1 – 1 ½ tsp of dill seed. If you are using reused store bought pickle jars or 1L jars, place 2 tsp of dill seed.
6 500ml wide mouth jars, or 3 large 1L or reused pickle jars Seals & rims Two large cooking pots Chop stick: used to help position the pickles in the hot jars Canning funnel: to assist with pouring the hot vinegar mixture into the jars Jar and lid lifter: to assist in pulling the sanitized jars from the boiling water
This entire pickling process can come together in under an hour.
Prepare your cucumbers by washing them and trimming the ends. Then, slice the cucumbers any way you would like. Spears, disks, long slices, halves, or small whole ones all work great.
Next, fill a large pot with water and place your jars in the water so that they are mostly or completely covered. If they don’t exactly fit in your pot, just make sure you shift them around while they are boiling. Bring the water to a boil and keep it boiling for 15 minutes with the jars in the water. Place the rims and seals in this pot too.
Prepare all your other ingredients while the jars boil.
In another pot, mix the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, and heat the mixture on medium heat. Keep the mixture warm until ready to pour into the jars.
Peel the garlic and if the cloves are large, cut them in half.
Once the jars have been boiling for 15 minutes, remove them from the water and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Add the following ingredients to the bottom of each jar:
1 – 2 tsp dill seed
2 sprigs of fresh dill
2 cloves of garlic
Add the sliced cucumbers to each jar after adding the herbs and spices. Use the chopstick to help position the cucumbers upright and pack them as much as possible. Make sure to leave ½ an inch of space at the top of the jar. Place another sprig or flower of dill at the top of the jar, along with an optional third clove of garlic if you like garlicy tasting pickles.
Once the jars are prepared, pour the hot vinegar mixture over each filled jar, leaving ¼ inch of space at the top. Using the chopstick again, try to remove any large bubbles that might be stuck along the sides of the jar. Wipe the top of the jar and place either the lid or the sanitized rims and seals.
For Fridge Pickles:
Let the filled jars cool, and once cooled, place in the fridge for three weeks before consuming.
For Sealed Jars:
Place the closed jars back into the large pot of hot water used for sanitizing the jars. Make sure the jars sit right side up and the water is covering the top (or very close to the tops). Boil for 15 minutes.
Take the jars out of the water and let them cool on a kitchen towel. Over the next hour or two, the jars should seal. If they do not seal, you can place them in the fridge as fridge pickles.
That’s it! Pickles are incredibly easy to make and are absolutely delicious. The recipe that inspired mine adds a spicier take to the pickles, and also has a lovely little homemade pickle label you can add to your jars for gifting.