My mother made pickles when I was growing up – all different kinds. I have always liked dill pickles best, so when I was getting an overabundance of cucumbers in the garden, it was time to give it a try.
I looked online and compared recipes. I know all about hot water bath canning but wasn’t sure what I wanted my ratio concerning the brine. I finally settled on one and went with it but added my own spices, etc.
Canning pickles is so simple!
Basically, with canning garlic dill pickles, you put all your seasonings in with your cucumbers and then pour hot water/salt/vinegar over top. That’s basically it besides for the prep work and actual canning. I know a lot of people do the refrigerator pickles but I have never understood why – they don’t last long. Preserving is so easy, and they last much longer.
If you are interested in canning, I highly recommend you get yourself some sort of starter kit. Here’s one that has the most important things you will need – the pot, the thing to lower down your cans into the boiling water (You don’t necessarily need this but for safety reasons, it’s probably best to use it). For me, the tongs are the most important part as well as the funnel for the jars and of course the pot. I don’t use the lid wrench.
Preparing for Hot Water Bath Canning
Either run your jars through the dishwasher to sterilize or boil them in your canning pot. When they are ready, I put them face down on a nice clean towel. It is important that you keep everything as sterile as possible.
Start boiling water in your canning pot. It usually takes a while because you need to make sure you have enough water in the pot to cover about six or seven jars completely.
This was my first pick of cucumbers for the year… Wash and dry the cucumbers. Cut them up into whatever shape you like. I took the bigger ones and cut into spears (scraping the large seeds off) and the smaller ones, I cut into thick “chips”. I also cut fresh dill from my garden. Discard the blossom and stem end (I give them to my chickens) – one of those has some sort of enzyme in it that will make your pickles soggy!
Before you begin, continue to prep by putting a big pot of water on the stove to boil – enough water that you will cover your entire jars when you place them inside.
If you’ve never grown dill, it is an easy herb especially in the summer outside, can’t say much for growing it inside though. I grow it in with my strawberries and peas. I also dry some of my dill and store it in jars as well before the growing season is over.
They aren’t dill pickles to me without garlic. Lots of it! I think so many people are afraid to use too much garlic. My husband raved over these pickles and said he has had homemade pickles before and they never tasted this good, so I can only assume it was the amount of garlic I used and the fact that I kept it very simple. I have to admit, once you start eating them, you cannot stop.
Cram those cucumbers into the jars. Okay, seriously, you have to really cram them in. You want to put as many in there as possible but still be able to close a lid on top. The reason why is they will shrink a little with the hot water bath. You don’t want all your pickles to float to the top and be left with a lot of juice at the bottom. Cram them in! I crammed mine so far in that I was crushing my garlic. Oh yeah, I put the equivalent of three small to medium sized cloves of garlic in each jar. When you use fresh raw garlic, it can be a bit spicy to be honest when you use a lot. We like that little kick. You will want to adjust to taste.
I did put a couple habaneros in with three of these just to do a few hot pickles to try them out. If you ever want to try something limit it until you know if it is good. It is really fun to experiment, so why not? The best part about canning pickles is the brine can be simple, and the spices kept separate, so you can do a batch of several flavors of dill. When I can jellies or jams, a specific recipe has to be followed for a specific batch amount, and you cannot change up flavors in between. That makes pickles probably the best first canning experience (my first solitary canning experience was blackberry jam back in 1996! It turned out really good – I lucked out and got just the right mix of ingredients. They don’t always turn out. It lulled me into a “this is so easy” mindset to where I had to redo my blackberry jelly this year in order to thicken it)
Oh, and put in a sprig or two of fresh dill as you are stuffing the jars. You can even use the blossom portion if you want a little visual interest.
The next step is putting in the spices.
I mix up a combination of these – coriander seed, dill seed, black peppercorns, mustard seed, red pepper flakes. Now, I know you want to slap me because I don’t have a specific amount that I use. I can tell you I put mostly dill seed, then mustard seed, then peppercorns and red pepper flakes, then a little bit of coriander seed.
I wish I would have measured out exact amounts but I kind of did it by what I thought would work well.
Here was the result visually.
I can tell you I placed about 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of this spice combination in each jar.
I try to be a bit free flowing with my recipes sometimes…. I want to continue to learn to find exactly what I’m looking for. Although my husband said absolutely do not change the recipe, I may change just a little tiny bit here and there with the pickling spices.
How to have Crunchy Pickles
Have you ever had homemade pickles that had no crunch? That was my fear when I started canning these. I need crunch! I want them to taste more store bought or better than store bought (oh and they are!!!!).
I picked this Pickle Crisp up while I was out one day and decided to try it.
One small jar lasts for quite a few batches. I put 1/8 of a teaspoon in each of my pint jars after putting the spices in.
Research which brine you want to use. Some people use apple cider vinegar, some white vinegar. I decided on white vinegar (We are generally gluten free here because my daughter turned out to have the celiac gene. I went on a GF diet with her and it turns out, I am probably the one that gave her that gene – we will be verifying that soon. Vinegar is one of those areas that some who are sensitive to gluten react to it – it’s up for debate. It doesn’t look like we are reacting to white vinegar at this time so that’s good.)
- 8-1/2 cups of water
- 4-1/2 cups of white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of salt (I used kosher)
I start my pickle brine while I’m stuffing jars. It needs to boil for a few minutes but doesn’t take as long to reach a boil as the canning water.
When the pickle brine is ready AND the canning water has reached a boil, it’s time to ladle the pickle brine into the jars (using the funnel to help keep it from being too messy but sometimes it is just messy no matter how careful you are). Fill to about 1/4 inch from the rim. Take a butter knife or something long and skinny (I had some bamboo skewers that I used), and carefully run it around the edges to the bottom of the jar. You want to release any air bubbles. Once all air bubbles are released, add a little more brine if necessary to bring it back up to 1/4 inch from the rim. Isn’t it beautiful? 🙂
Clean off the rim. This is important. You want a good seal. I use a lint free towel and wet it a little, and carefully run it around the rim, removing anything that could be there.
Place lids on top – never reuse the sealing lids. These should be brand new. Screw the rings in place. I give it a good tighten with my hand.
Lower these right away into your boiling water (either by lowering them with the rack or just use the tongs and carefully place them in. The water needs to be covering the jars over the lids.
Boil for 12-15 minutes (this could change if you are in different altitudes so check your altitude against canning methods). No more than 15 minutes or you will risk overcooking. I usually do about 12.
Immediately take them out with tongs. Place on dry towel and leave there until all of the lids pop (the top sinks in and you will usually hear them pop as they cool).
Your pickles should turn a different color. When I first watched them turn, I thought oh no, they aren’t as pretty and oh no, they won’t be crispy. Believe me, they will be amazing and crispy!
Give them 24 hours. If any lids do not seal, put them in the refrigerator and eat within the next few weeks. I’ve never had one not seal. I usually leave the rings on for about 24 hours and then take the rings off and store.
Wait a week before giving them a try. Chill them and then open them up and enjoy. We’ve already gone through a few jars and we’ve only had the first batch a week and I just did a second batch this past weekend! lol! They are just that good!