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Dill Pickles

11 cups water

5 cups white vinegar

1 cup canning salt (coarse sea salt is OK, but not iodized salt)

12 pounds pickling cucumbers, quartered lenthwise

9 dill sprigs or heads (the flowering top of the dill plant)

18 garlic cloves or scapes

18 dried chiles (optional)

18 fresh grape, raspberry, oak, or cherry leaves (optional)

In a stockpot, bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil; boil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sterilize quart jars. Put quart jars into large stockpot. Fill with water to cover jars and bring to a boil. Return heat to low to keep jars hot. Put lids into a small pot and cover with boiling water to sterilize.

Remove jars one at at time to fill. Pack cucumbers into hot quart jars within 1/2 in. of top. Place one dill head, two garlic cloves, two peppers (optional) and two grape leaves in each jar. (The fresh grape leaves supply tannins which help to keep the pickles crisp and crunchy.)

Carefully ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids.

Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Put filled, sealed jars back into hot water in large stockpot. Water must be at least one inch over top of jars. Bring to a boil, and begin timing from hard boil. Remove from pot after 15 minutes, and allow to cool. Lids should pop as the jars cool and the lids seal. Check to be sure that lids are sucked down, and cannot be indented, to ensure they are properly sealed. 

Yield: 9 quarts.