I am so happy to post this recipe for Easy Dill Pickles because I made them yesterday and the brittle, yellow newspaper article from 1988 (yes...1988) was crumbling in my hands. So... apparently I have been making these pickles for 28 + years!
Obviously I am starting to populate the blog with my favourite recipes!
Okay - let's talk about the 'easy' part.... Some pickle recipes call for overnight soaking of cucumbers, (if not days as in 9 Day Pickles!); some call for simmering submerged in a canner. So the fact that you just clean these cucumbers and soak an hour or so in ice water and pour boiling vinegar over them and seal, makes them rate as easy!
These are so good my friends and family look forward to them every year. They have even been known to 'go missing' from my cupboard! (You know who you are! LOL!)
You do need some specific kitchenware though to support the process. The canning jars and lids for a start. I use Bernardin and I like the 750ml Wide Mouth Jars, 9-Pack, Clear.
but that is just personal preference. They come in a lot of sizes and colours and have lots of choices for lids, tags etc. You can re-use the jars forever, the screw tops a few times but the sealer lid you need to use new ones each year. You can also use them for smoothies, overnight oatmeal etc.
I use the bottom of my roasting pan to sterilize the jars on top of the stove and my dutch oven to simmer the vinegar mixture. You also need some big tongs to get the jars and lids out of the hot water.
You also need some good glass (heatproof) measuring cups that pour. Some people use a funnel but I don't for these.
A double sink is helpful so you can scrub cucumbers in one sink and toss into the other sink full of ice water. Don't scrimp on the scrubbing! I use a dish brush with firm short bristles on one side and longer, softer bristles on the other. Scrub all sides of the cucumber and both ends even if you don't think you can see dirt. I use the soft bristles if I don't see anything and the stiff side if I can see dirt. Some vendors promote that they have already washed the cucumbers. There will be less scrubbing but you still need to do it. You will be amazed at the sand in your sink after. There is nothing worse than biting into a pickle with sand on it!
After they are clean I sort the cucumbers by size and let them dry on a towel. When you are filling your jars you can easily find the larger cucumbers to go in the bottom layer and smaller ones to fill the top of the jar.
I also use a few clean tea towels to absorb any spilled vinegar mixture, help handle hot jars and dry lids.
Excluding the investment for the jars (because after 28 + years believe me they have paid for themselves!) - I made 9 liters of dill pickles and 4 half liters of Bread and Butter pickles for about $16. So about $1.46 per liter compared to $3 + in the store.
Chef's Tips for Easy Dill Pickles
- Here is some more background on the ingredients.
- Cucumbers means fresh baby cucumbers. They come in many sizes. The smaller they are the more expensive. I used #2 size which are about 4" long. I sometimes will buy a mixture of 4" cucumbers and smaller baby ones because the smaller ones fill up the top of the jar more easily. This time I only bought the 4" ones and I had to cut them in half for the upper pickle layer.
- Vinegar means white distilled 5% solution unless recipe specifies something different.
- Salt means Coarse pickling salt. Ordinary table salt would make the brine cloudy.
- Water means soft water. Pickles turn darker in hard water. If soft water is not available you can use distilled water.
When you open a jar of pickles you will definitely need to pry the snap lid off and you will know you have broken the seal. If the lid is loose do not use the pickles. (This has never happened to me but it can happen.)
Easy Dill Pickles
- 8-10 lbs fresh cucumbers about 4" long
- 4 cups white vinegar 5% solution
- 8 cups boiling water
- ½ cup coarse pickling salt
- 6 cloves garlic (optional)
- 12 sprigs fresh dill
- Fill your sink with warm water and dump cucumbers into the water. Scrub each cucumber with a bristle brush and toss into ice water either in the other sink or in a separate clean container large enough to hold all the cucumbers.
- While the cucumbers sit in the ice bath, fill bottom of roasting pan with 3" of water. Straddle the roaster over front and back burners of your stove top and bring water to a good simmer. Invert as many jars as it will hold. I can put about 6 liter jars in at a time. Let the jars simmer for 15 minutes. The jars will sometimes pull the water up inside them. You may need to lift the jars with tongs to release the water back into the pan.
- Mix the vinegar, salt and water in a dutch oven and bring to a boil on the stove. Turn down so it is just simmering.
- While the jars and vinegar are simmering, remove cucumbers from ice water and dry them. I line them up on a clean tea towel and start to make rows of cucumbers of similar size. (This will make it easier when you are filling the jars to find large cucumbers for the bottom and smaller for the top.) Take a paper towel or other tea towel to dry the tops of each layer of cucumbers.
- Trim the dill sprigs so you have the head and no stem and peel your garlic cloves if using.
- Add your snap lids and rings to the simmering sterilization bath. They should simmer 3-5 minutes. (Not too long or you can damage the rubber seal in the snap lid)
- With tongs, remove a jar from the bath and sit it on a clean tea towel beside your ingredients. Place a large sprig of dill and a clove of garlic in the jar.
- I tilt the jar to its side and lay cucumbers in to fill the bottom layer. (They look like they are standing on one end but tilting the jar on its side keeps them from falling all over the place.) Continue to fill the jar with smaller pickles or by halving the large pickles. Top with a small sprig of dill leaving about ½ - 1 " of clearance to the top of the jar rim.
- Take your jar back close to the simmering vinegar solution. ( I set mine on another tea towel to catch any drips.) Dip a glass measuring cup into the vinegar mixture and pour the hot vinegar over the pickles in the jar. You will need leave ½ - 1" of head space at the top of the jar.
- Remove the snap lid and ring from the water bath with tongs. Position the snap lid on the jar rim. Wipe the top of the lid dry and make sure it lines up properly with the rim. Wipe the metal ring dry and screw onto the jar finger tight.
- Repeat until cucumbers are all jarred. Note that the amount of vinegar mixture you will need to fill the jar will vary depending on how tightly packed your cucumbers are. You may have some left over or you may have to make up a small additional amount.
- Make sure the outside of the jar is dry and clean. Let them stand for a few hours on a tea towel (not in a draft). You will hear the odd pop now and again as the lids seal during the cooling process.
- Store in a dark, cool place. I usually leave mine 6-8 weeks before I use them.