How to Make Dill Pickles
How to Can Dill Pickles
There's nothing better than a cool, sour, crunchy dill pickle in the middle of a summer afternoon. Good on sandwiches or as a quick snack, nothing signals a classic old-school kitchen like a shelf full of home-canned pickles. Many people, from DIYers to grandmothers, preserve cucumbers with acid and salt, keeping the kitchen stocked and the family happy.
Prepping the Pickles
Get some cucumbers.Kirby cucumbers are the "classic" pickling cucumber, and are recommended for sweet and crunchy pickles. Typically, for pickling a batch, you'll want at least two or three pounds of cucumbers.
Wash and process the cucumbers.Rinse them thoroughly and cut them in the desired shape. You can cut them into rounds or chips, spears, or keep them whole for pickling. If you keep them whole, trim off the flower-end of the cucumber.
Brine the cucumbers.To ensure crispy canned pickles, pack your sliced or whole cucumbers in salt and ice and keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before you pickle them.
- In a bowl, toss 3-4 tbsp of kosher salt with your cucumbers and an equal amount of ice. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients and supplies.
Mix up your pickling solution.If you're going to can the pickles, you'll want a 1 : 1 ratio of vinegar to water for making the "pickle juice." Depending on how many pickles you have, a quart should be enough. You can always mix up more on the fly. Regular white vinegar is fine, or you can use cider vinegar or another vinegar you prefer. To this, add 1.5 tbsp of kosher salt.
- Mix in a saucepan or pot. Heat the mixture on the stove until it comes to a boil. Lower the head and keep it at a steady temperature. It needs to be at boiling temperature to pickle the cucumbers.
- "Pickle crisp" is a commercial pickling product used to keep pickles crispy. It's basically calcium chloride. A natural alternative to pickle crisp is to use grape leaves in the jars, which was the traditional way to keep the pickles from softening.
Prepare your pickling spices.How you want to spice your pickles is up to you, but a typical "pickling spice" mixture includes black peppercorns, dill seeds, smashed or sliced garlic cloves, and red pepper flakes if you like some kick.
- You can either throw the dried spices into the pickling solution, or you can stuff the spice mix into the jars after you've prepared them and before you've inserted the pickles. Either is an effective way of spicing the pickles, but packing an amount in each jar will ensure an even amount of spice in each jar.
Prepping the Jars
Decide on the number of jars that you will be using.Wide-mouth jars are the easiest to stuff and ladle into. As a rule of thumb one quart jar can hold about four cucumbers. Have extra jars on hand just in case. While you can reuse glass jars and rims, you can't reuse lids. Typically you can buy a box of new jar lids for a few dollars.
- Take all of the lids, rims, jars and boiling water canner and run them through your dishwasher removing any residue that might be on them. Inspect them and make sure there are no cracks or other issues.
In a large pot, boil enough water to cover your jars.Place a canning rack at the bottom off the boiling water to keep the jars off the super-hot bottom of the pot, which risks cracking them. Place the jars inside. Boil the jars for at least five minutes.
- Do not boil the lids. The rubber seal on the lids will be ruined if you boil them. On your stove or in the microwave, you can heat water to just under a boil and sterilize the lids in that.
Remove the jars with a jar lifter and set on towel.Set each jar right side up on a towel on your work surface, making sure everything is in reach--you'll need your jars, lids, lid bands, and pickling solution all close by. It can be a quick process, so it sometimes helps to have a partner at this point.
Wash your hands then pack the jar tightly with pickles.Remove the cucumbers from the salt/ice mixtures and pat them dry, then pack them into the jars leaving at least half an inch from the where the jar mouth narrows.
- Again, you can either line the bottom of the jars with the pickling spices or include them in the solution. Either way, this is also your chance to include any fresh spices you might like to add, like smashed garlic cloves, fresh dill leaves, or grape leaves for crispness.
Filling the Jars
Ladle the hot pickle solution over the pickles.You can use a small funnel and put it on the rim of your jar if you want, or just ladle it in if you feel confident of your pouring skills. Pour in the pickle juice till it is about a half an inch from the top of the jar.
- You need to make sure the pickles are completely submerged under the solution. Any pickles exposed to the air will spoil, and possibly ruin the jar. Grape leaves can be good for this, using the leaves to push the pickles down and then leaving the leaf on top.
Top with a lid and screw on a band.Wipe the mouth of the jar of any dripped pickling solution before you do this, using a clean cloth dipped in the hot sterilizing water. Screw the lid on tightly.
When you've filled all the jars, boil them in the sterilization pot.Keep the jar upright and make sure there is an inch of water above the lids. If you don't have enough water left from the sterilizing of the jars, pour more in. Close the lid and let it boil on high.
- Turn off heat after 5 to 15 minutes and let the jars sit until the water stops boiling and cools down some. Take your jar lifter and remove jars from water and place on towel. Let sit for 24 hours.
- Do not remove or attempt to tighten the lids. If you hear a distinctive "pop," it means the jars have sealed.
Write the date of when you made them on a sticker and place on the lid.Properly sealed jars should be good on the shelf for a year or more. Keep them in a cool and dry area, out of sunlight.
- Let the pickles sit for 10-14 days before putting them in the fridge. This will complete the pickling process. If you really want to, you can open or eat them before they've pickled, but they'll be better once you've let them sit and pickle for several days. When they're pickled, put them in the fridge and let them cool down for a delicious cold snack.
QuestionWhat should I do if the jar does not seal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut them in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks. Without the seal, they will not keep at room temperature.Thanks!
QuestionI pickled some cucumbers for 9 days in a ceramic crock. Can I now just go to step 3 and still have crisp pickles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPack the crock pickles in jars, put a little alum in each jar, and pour boiled brine from the crock over the top. If you did not use alum or grape leaves in the crock, you may already have soft pickles. Just eat them right away! The alum will make the flavor quite strong, but I like them that way!Thanks!
QuestionCan I use a pressure cooker to can dill pickles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe vinegar used to pickle is acidic enough that you do not need to cook pickles before canning them, but you can use it if you want them cooked first.Thanks!
Is this actual grape leaves from a vine or a spice?
Where do I find or get grapes leaves?
If sweet pickles are not sweet, can they be heated/processed again?
Things You'll Need
Boiling water canner
Magnet or magnetized lid/band grabber
Sources and Citations
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Video: Homemade Dill Pickles.
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