Do you have cucumbers coming out your ears? Do you want to enjoy your cucumbers in the dead of winter? Do you want a step-by-step guide to turning cucumbers into dill pickles? If you said yes to any of these questions, you’re in the right place.
Here is my guide to making the crunchiest, crispiest, dill pickles in one afternoon.
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This pickle recipe was shared with me about five years ago, and it has become a cornerstone of my canning repertoire.
I will admit when I began canning and pickling, I was very intimidated by the pickle making process (and I’m assuming you might be intimidated too). I was fortunate to have a friend take me under their wing and show me just how easy and fun pickling can be. Now, I want to share with you, dear reader, so you can enjoy the crisp dilly pickle crunch all year long too.
This step-by-step guide can be used on other veggies as well. I have used the same recipe and process to can asparagus, green beans, and even carrots.
Related: How to Make Tomato Sauce
Making and canning pickles does take a few pieces of equipment that other canning processes don’t use. Here is my tools that are specific for pickling cucumbers or any other vegetable.
One of the best canning investments I ever made was purchasing a turkey fryer. Yes, a turkey fryer. No, I have never even fried a turkey, but I have attempted to make a pickle brine in my kitchen and nearly burned every nose hair off with the extreme vinegar smell. Lesson learned: boil your vinegar brine outside. The turkey fryer let’s me boil my brine in a well-ventilated area (like my garage) and let my sniffer live another day.
This is the turkey fryer and pot I use. I also have a propane tank from the gas station that I just swap out when it is empty.
Eight-Cup Glass Batter Bowl
I have had a large glass measuring cup/batter bowl for a couple years, and it has made transferring the brine from the bowling pot to pouring over my jars of cucumbers so much easier. It’s glass so it can withstand the high temp of the boiling brine and it has a handle and a small lip which makes it super easy to pour into each jar.
Since I make my pickles in the garage, I use my six-foot folding table for my work space. I like to recruit people to help me can (and pay them in pickles, no one complains), and create and assembly line of sorts. This table allows me to turn any space into a pickling factory.
I use this canning kit—or at least parts of it—every time I can or pickle. The magnet grabber, the funnel, the rubber-edged tongs, they are all necessary when grabbing hot jars lids and bands or pouring hot liquid cleanly into jars. All my canning and pickling recipes call for heating the food, and boiling the lids and rings so you will always always use these things.
Stock Pot and Canning Rack
I will be honest, I have done this recipe with a waterbath at the end and without a waterbath, and both turn out crunchy, dilly, goodness. However, this summer when I did this recipe, I did do the waterbath, and every single jar sealed perfectly. They all taste so great so far. This is the speckled stock pot and canning rack that I use. They are great to have because they are a staple of a canning inventory.
Wide Mouth Jars and Lids
When making or canning pickles, I have found using wide mouth jars makes for the easiest time stuffing the cucumbers into the jars. There is more wiggle room for your hands and fingers and I think you can fit more cucumbers in each jar. When I make these pickles, I start with a bushel of cucumbers which weighs about fifty pounds and equates to about three dozen quarts of pickles.
Other Useful Tools
I always try to have extra wide mouth lids on hand in case a jar doesn’t seal within 24 hours and I need to re-waterbath it. I also like to have a set of rubber gloves on hand too to save my fingers from the hot brine and hot jars and lids.
Let’s Make Some Pickles!
So now that you know what I use everytime I pickle, let’s get to the step-by-step process. There are a few steps involved, but it isn’t really that hard to do. Here we go!
*This ingredient list is for a large batch canning method which yields three dozen quarts. The recipe listed below is for 6 quarts of pickles. For the recipe below, so this recipe is just the recipe below, multiplied by six.
-One bushel (fifty pounds) cucumbers
-32 ounces minced garlic (I always have a ton leftover that I stick in the fridge to use with other recipes)
-Lots of fresh dill
-Two gallons white distilled vinegar
-Two gallons water
-Four cups pickling salt
-Eight cups sugar
- Make sure all your cucumbers are clean. I like to use small (2-4 inches) cucumbers, and pickle them whole. You don’t have to do it that way. You can cut your cucumbers into slices or wedges or lengthwise slices; basically whatever you want. Just make sure all your cucumbers are rinsed and there aren’t any leaves or bugs on them.
- Make sure all your jars are washed and sanitized, and line all jars on your folding table. Remove the rings and lids and set aside. I put a tablespoon of minced garlic in the bottom of each jar, as well as a sprig of dill and a couple of slices of jalapeno, but the jalapeno is optional. We just prefer a little spice. Want more spice? Add the seeds, or kick up the heat a notch with a spicier pepper.
- Now stuff the jars with cucumbers. I try to fill the jars as tight as possible, so it’s best to stand all the pickles vertical. I stuff them around the edges of the jar then fill up the middle, then do a second layer of stuffing, and shove as many little little cukes in the holes as I can. This way I don’t run out of vinegar brine too quickly and I’m not using a ton of jars. One time I did not stuff well and ended up with 44 jars of pickles. Oops. Also, make sure you leave a half inch of headspace at the top of the jar. What does this mean, just fill the jar within half an inch of the top of the jar so when you put the brine in and seal the jars, there is space for the air to go and the lids seal down and not expand up.
- After all your jars are stuffed it’s time to make the brine. I will combine one gallon of white vinegar, one gallon of water, four cups sugar, and two cups pickling salt in my turkey fryer pot. I stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved and let them come to a boil. In a separate pot (I did this in my kitchen and brought them outside), boil your lids and rings. Once you’re ready to pour your brine over your cucumbers, I bring my lids and rings and the pot with the boiling water all to my workstation to stay hot. Obviously, if you have another burner in your space, use that and don’t transport boiling water. I just don’t have that luxury.
- When you get to this step, I would highly recommend having at least one other person help you. You’re going to create an assembly line. Dip your large glass measuring cup in your boiling brine, then start pouring over each jar of cukes, making sure to leave half an inch of headspace. Then, have your other person follow behind you with lids and jar rings (this is when that magnet on the stick is so crucial, so you aren’t reaching into scalding hot water) to place on top and twist the rings tight. I usually wear a rubber glove when I do this step.
- Here you have two options: you can flip all the jars over now, and let them rest for 24 hours and let the heat of the brine seal the lids, or you can water bath them. I have done both, and both work well. You decide.
These pickles have a shelf life of about a year, but they honestly don’t last that long in my house because everyone loves them!
Want to know what these pickles go great in? My classic Bloody Mary Recipe!
Crunchy Dill Pickles
- Turkey Fryer
- 6 quart mason jars with metal rings and new (never used) lids
- Glass measuring cup
- Canning kit with tongs and magnetic lid grabber
- Waterbath pot and insert
- 9 pounds small cucumbers
- 3 jalepenos, sliced and seeded leave seeds for more spice
- lots of fresh dill
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup pickling salt
- 1 qt water
- 1 qt white distilled vinegar
- 6 tablespoon minced garlic
- Use dishwasher to wash and sanitize jars and rings, and line up on folding table
- Set aside rings and metal lids. Put each of the following in the bottom of each jar: 1 tablespoon minced garlic, a sprig of dill, a few slices of jalepeno
- Stuff each jar with cucumbers, leaving ½ inch of headspace at the top of each jar
- Boil rings and lids in a sauce pot. After boiling, remove from heat, but keep near. Do not drain from water.
- Boil vinegar, water, salt and sugar in turkey fryer pot.
- Once brine is boiling, use glass measuring cup to scoop out brine and pour over jars of pickles, As soon as brine is in jars, put lid and ring on each jar and tighten.
- At this point, you can either A) Flip jars over and leave untouched for 24 hours, or B) waterbath jars for 20 minutes. To water bath: place jars in stockpot on canning rack, fill stock pot to nearly completely covering jars. Waterbath for 20 minutes. Remove from water, let cool for 24 hours.