I just love pickles – they’re a deliciously crunchy and healthy snack, and they turn an ordinary sandwich to an awesome one. And bonus, I never buy them in the store because making homemade pickles is so easy (and fun), especially if you grow your own cucumbers— cucumbers grow like wildfire! The recipe I like best is below and you can adjust the spice level to your liking; you can even use slices of hot pepper instead of red pepper flakes. On the flip side, if you’d rather make plain dill pickles, just omit the red pepper flakes. You can also amp up how much garlic you put in. If you prefer a stronger garlic flavor, just add more garlic. You really can make your own pickles at home and the possibilities are endless!
You can also make spears instead of coins, but I prefer coins because they’re easier on sandwiches. The recipe below is for pint jars, but you can easily multiply the ingredients and make them in quart jars as well. Homemade pickles make excellent gifts – I think you’ll find you prefer them so much to grocery store jars that you’ll make them at home exclusively! And canning is not difficult at all; I don’t use a fancy canning machine, I just use the old fashioned water bath canning method. Here are some great canning resources if you want to learn more:
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Getting Started with Canning by Ball
- Canning 101 by Food in Jars
I found that sometimes pickles can come out mushy so I use Ball Pickle Crisp – it’s natural (calcium chloride) and it really does work great. You only need 1/8 of a teaspoon per pint jar so you don’t need a lot and the pickles come out super crispy every time. I’ve also heard that if you soak your cucumber coins in ice water, this will help the pickles to be crisper as well. Feel free to omit the Pickle Crisp from the recipe if you don’t want to use it!
Spicy Dill Pickles Recipe
- 4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- Cucumbers sliced in 1/4″ coins – number you’ll need will vary on the size, roughly 6 medium sized cukes
- 6-7 pint sized canning jars
- Pickling mix for each jar:
- Sprig(s) of fresh dill
- 1 clove of garlic
- Mustard seeds
- Red pepper flakes
- Black peppercorns
- Coriander seeds
- Ball Pickle Crisp
In a large pot, bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil. In a separate large pot of simmering water, place empty canning jars right side up for sterilization – you’ll want the water level to be at least 1” above the tops of the jars so depending on the size jars you’re using you might need to add in more water. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove the jars from the water. Put the jar lids in the water until you’re ready to close them up.
Place pickling mix in each jar and fill tightly with cucumber coins. Pour or ladle the hot vinegar/water mixture over everything until you almost reach the top (leave a 1/2” headspace at the top). Remove all air bubbles from the jars – you can do this by banging the jar on the counter, or by inserting a flat utensil around the edges. Sprinkle 1/8 of a teaspoon of Ball Pickle Crisp on top. Wipe the rim of the jars, place the lid on the jar and screw on the band until it’s tight. Process jars in water bath for 15 minutes, remove and cool for 24 hours on a towel in the kitchen. Test the seal on each jar before moving to the basement (or another cool spot) for 3 weeks of processing and then they’re shelf stable for a year. When you test the jars, the lid should not move up and down when the center is pressed. If it does move, put the jar in the fridge to consume within a month or two.
Enjoy your homemade pickles as a snack, on sandwiches, or to give out as gifts!