Homemade dill pickles are a delightful treat during the summer months! Whip up some pickles for your next barbecue or give them to your family and friends.


Below is the recipe I used to make these pickles. I took it from my mom's copy of The Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving, and Freezing. This book from 1976 was put out by the United States Department of Agriculture as a reference guide for safe canning practices.

Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles
Yield: 7 quarts

17-18 lbs of cucumbers, 3-5 inches in length, packed 7-10 per quart jar
2 gallons of 5% brine (3/4 cup pure granulated salt per gallon of water)
6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) vinegar
3/4 cups pure granulated salt
1/4 cup sugar
9 cups (2 1/4 quarts) water
2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spice

--Per Quart Jar--
2 teaspoons whole mustard seed
3 heads garlic, if desired
3 heads dill plant, fresh or dried
1 tablespoon dill seed

1. Wash cucumbers thoroughly; scrub with vegetable brush; drain.
2. Cover with 5% brine (3/4 cup salt per gallon of water). Let set overnight; drain.
3.Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, water, and mixed pickling spices that are tied in a clean, thin, white cloth; heat to boiling.
4. Pack cucumbers into clean, hot quart jars.
5. Add mustard seed, dill plant or seed, and garlic to each jar; cover with boiling liquid to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Adjust jar lids.
6. Process in boiling water for 20 minutes (start to count the processing time as soon as hot jars are placed into the actively boiling water).
7. Remove jars and complete seals if necessary. set jars upright, several inches apart, on a wire rack to cool.

*Notes at the bottom of the entry.


I went to the Garden Fresh Market on Skokie Blvd. on Sunday and rummaged through the mound of pickling cucumbers to find 17 lbs of the best cukes.

That night I washed and scrubbed each of the cukes and tossed them into Vaughn's five gallon brewing pots to soak in a brine overnight.

On Monday I had a hell of a time trying to find Ball canning jars. I went to five different stores before I found them at a Jewel-Osco!

I started the canning process when I got home from the store. Barbara, the cleaning lady, and I struck up a conversation about pickles. She is Polish and she makes very traditional fermented pickles. Barbara told me she uses water, salt, a chunk of fresh horseradish, a whole stalk of dill from her garden, mustard seeds and other spices. I'll have to try that technique sometime!

Happy Pickling!



-I'm not sure how they fit in so many cucumbers per quart jar. I was only able to fit 4 in each (they were about 5 inches and very plump). I had to make another batch with sliced and speared cucumbers, which are much easier to fit in the jars. I ended up with 7 quart jars of whole pickles, 5 quart jars of pickle spears, and 2 pint jars of pickle slices.

-Pure granulated salt is non-iodized table salt. Make sure you look at the label before you put it in your basket. Here's an image of Morton's packaging.

-Water: I used tap water because it's convenient. But I highly suggest buying drinking water at the grocery store. Not distilled, not spring...drinking! It's just plain old water that has been filtered to remove heavy minerals and it is not treated with chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals like tap water.

-Use your favorite pre-packaged pickling spice (found with other spices in the baking aisle), or you can make your own. There are plenty of recipes for whole pickling spices online and in cookbooks. Just remember to use whole spices!

-The processing time is based on feet above sea level. Twenty minutes is recommended for those living below 1,000 feet above sea level.
If the recommended processing time is 20 mins or less, increase the time by 1 minute for every 1,ooo feet (i.e. 0-1,000 ft: 20 mins; 1,000 ft: 21 mins; 2,000 ft: 22 mins.)
If the recommended processing time is 20 mins or more, increase the time by 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet (i.e. 0-1,000 ft: 30 mins; 1,000 ft: 32 mins; 2,000 ft: 34 mins)

-You know your jars are sealed when you here a "ping" sound from each of the jars a few minutes after they come out of the canner and the lids are firm when depressed. If the lids are properly sealed (sealing compound on the lid fully adheres to the jar), the pressure inside the jar decreases as it begins to cool and creates a vacuum. The "ping" is the center of the lid being sucked in by the vacuum.

Test the seal by depressing the lid. If the lid gives then a seal has not been made. Immediately put the jars back into the boiling water and processes for another 20 minutes. If the lid does not seal a second time the contents of the jar should be thrown away. There is too much of a risk of contamination.


  1. these pickles are YUMMY!!!

  2. uhhhh we have not yet reached the year 19763. something's telling me the publishing date of the book is wrong.
    otherwise, very cool

  3. thanks for spotting that typo! it was published in 1976...my clumsy fingers seem to think otherwise.