Really, the only reason I grow cucumbers is to make garlic dill pickles. Oh, sure, we eat cucumbers in tossed salads, and I make a German-style cucumber salad that my husband adores. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like a good garlic dill pickle.
If you’re new to canning, pickles are a great way to start. Or skip the canning process altogether, and use the refrigerator pickle method I’ve provided. Be sure to see my notes below about using other vegetables, too!
- 3 lbs. pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
- 1½ cups good quality white vinegar
- 1½ cups water
- 2 tbsp. pickling or Kosher salt
- 8-12 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 tsp. dill seeds
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 2 large, fresh grape leaves (optional)
- Wash jars in warm, soapy water and rinse in hot, or run them through the dishwasher.
- If you will be canning these, get your water bath canner boiling now. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, bring a few inches of water to a low simmer and add the canning jar lids.
- Wash and dry the cucumbers. (See my homemade fruit and vegetable wash.) Slice a sliver off from each end, and cut into chunks or spears.
- In medium sauce pan, bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil.
- Divide the garlic cloves, dill seeds and peppercorns equally between the hot jars. Pack the cucumbers in as tightly as you can manage.
- Pour the hot vinegar brine into the hot jars, allowing ¼ inch headspace. Place one grape leaf on top of the cucumbers in each jar to cover them. This will keep your pickles crispy. (Skip to Step 12 if you are making refrigerator pickles.)
- Run a chopstick or small plastic spatula around the interior of the jar, between the cucumbers and the glass, to remove any air bubbles.
- Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth, place a lid on top and put the band on. Screw the band on only until just closed; you do not want them on too tight.
- Process jars by carefully lowering them into the boiling water bath canner. The water will stop boiling at this point; when it returns to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes.
- After the jars have processed at a full boil for 10 minutes, remove them carefully to a folded towel on the counter. Allow them to cool for 24 hours. Do not move them! It is normal for the jars to make popping sounds as they cool.
- The next day, check the seal by pressing down on the lid. If it does not move, the jar has been properly sealed. Any lids that wobble are not shelf-stable and will need to be stored in the refrigerator.
- If you would rather skip the canning process, wipe the jar rims and place a lid and band on them. Allow them to cool, then put them in the refrigerator.
If you’re doing the refrigerator method, feel free to try other vegetables besides cucumbers. Baby carrots or carrots cut into strips, whole green beans, pearl onions, radishes and baby turnips are all good this way! In fact, my vegetable-hating son isn’t a fan of my garlic dill pickles but he loves just about any other kind of vegetable pickled in this brine!
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Equipment I used: