Dill Pickle Recipe for Water Bath Canning
If you are following along on this series, you know we just returned from the Hmongtown Marketplace with a bushel of cucumbers and a five gallon bucket of green beans. Thank you to all of the deer in my garden for iving me the opportunity to buy my own produce. RME
A quick note about canning: Canning is very safe if you follow food safety guidelines. I highly recommend sticking to known and trusted sources like Ball’s Blue Book and actually read the first chapter where it talks about food safety. We usually use published recipes, but this post is a family recipe that has been passed down for at least 4 generations. The key is to sanitize, water bath, and keep acidity high. We bath pickled quart jars for 15 minutes (this is what most of the Ball recipes call for when making pickles, although the family recipe calls for only a 10 minute bath) and keep the acidity high (a low ph under 4.6ph will inhibit the growth of botulism. We tested the brine and it measured 2.8).
Feel free to adjust the quantities for your needs. The published measurements will make about 30 quarts of pickles out of 1/2 bushels of cucumbers so I find these quantities work very well.
The recipe is made of two parts. You will need both a brine and the packing ingredients.
- Cucumbers – 1/2 bushel of cucumbers. You can try various types if you like. Personally, I like to have a mix. I cut them into fingers and pack them as tight as possible.
- Dill – 2 heads of dill per can. (60 total)
- Garlic – 2-3 cloves per can. (60-90)
- Alum – 1 Teaspoon per can. (several bottles – I suggest double checking the quantity at the store)
- Grape Leaf – If you can find a wild grape vine, the leaves will help keep the pickles crisp. If not, this is not a necessary ingredient.
- Jalapeños – Optional if you want spicy pickles. Just slice it into rings and add 2-3 per jar.
You will need about 3.5 gallons of brine depending on how tightly you pack the cucumber in the jars. The brine recipe is below.
- 3 quarts water
- 1 quart vinegar (5% acid)
- 1 cup canning salt.
Personally, I make batches of 1 or 2x this recipe rather than making one big 3.5 gallon batch. But, if you do want to make the one large batch, your totals will be 3.5 cups salt, 3.5 quarts vinegar, and 10.5 quarts of water.
Prep the ingredients. After you get all of your supplies and ingredients, start by cleaning and cutting the cucumbers and set them aside. Organize your garlic, alum, dill, and grape leaves so they are ready when you pack your cans. You can do this while you are sanitizing your lids in the next paragraph.
Clean and sanitize your cans and lids. Hand wash the cans with soapy water then boil them for 10 minutes. Then, put the cans in the oven at 250 degrees and leave them in the heat until they are packed. Keep them in the heat for two reasons: 1) it will keep them sanitary and 2) it will prevent the glass from cracking when you pour in the hot brine. The lids to the cans have rubber, so you can’t boil them, but bring them close to a boil and let them simmer in a saucepan to soften the rubber.
When your packing ingredients and your cans are ready, you can make your first batch of brine. Bring it to a boil. When it boils, turn the heat down just to keep it hot while you pack the cans.
Using a tongs or hot pad, pull your cans out of the oven and place upright on a towel. Add the garlic and dill to the jar with the jalapeños if desired, then pack as many cucumber slices into the jar as possible. Do not leave less than 1/2 inch of headspace above your cucumbers. Pour in the Alum, add your grape leaf and then ladle the brine into the can to bring the water level to within 1/2 inch of the top.
With a clean rag, wipe off the rim of the can. Immediately place the seal on the lid and finger tip tighten the ring around the lid. Using a rack or tongs place your cans into the water bath. I have a rack and a pot that will do 7 quarts at a time. Make sure the water is boiling and there is enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Start your timer and let the cans boil for 15 minutes.
After the water bath the cans can be removed and transferred to a counter to cool. Make sure the seals pop. It can take up to 24 hours but in my experience, 90% of them seal in the first 5 minutes. If you get cans that don’t seal, you can do the bath again or put them in your fridge.
It takes a couple of weeks for the cucumbers to pickle. After that, enjoy! They will be safe to eat for years, but best tasting within one year.