I am excited to show you How to Can Mom’s Dill Pickles with my amazing Mother!
The recipe my mother uses is one where she combined my German grandmother’s recipe, and my Ukrainian grandmother’s recipe, and she came out with her own recipe which, in my opinion is the best of two worlds. Our family is wild about mom’s dill pickles.
When I was away at university, mom and dad used to stock up my pantry, always including a supply of mom’s dill pickles, and my roommates and friends, basically, became addicted to mom’s dill pickles. Once my friends tasted them, mom had to bring more every time my parents came to visit me.
How to Can Mom’s Dill Pickles:
If you are using cucumbers harvested from your own garden, they will be all different sizes. In this case, you would put the larger cucumbers at the bottom of the jars and the smaller ones would be arranged on the top half, as needed. Since I have only one size of medium-sized cucumbers, it necessitates cutting some of the cucumbers in half to fill the top halves of the jars.
The large, Ontario dill stalks, which have a profusion of beautiful crowns perfect for canning, also come from Harvest Barn Country Markets. So fresh and available in large bunches, this dill actually comes straight out of Niagara.
The Ontario horseradish comes from Harvest Barn Country Market in Niagara-on-the-Lake too, and is pungent and fresh, just they way we need it for canning dill pickles.
- In order to be efficient in the canning process, it’s best to have all of the cucumbers washed thoroughly. Then, they need to be plunged into very cold water, preferably with a couple trays of ice cubes. The cucumbers should remain in cold water for at least 12 hrs, but no longer than 24 hrs. They are then drained and ready to be packed into jars.
- The jars should be washed thoroughly, and rinsed. Washing in the dishwasher is preferable. Next, the jars should be sterilized by being submerged in boiling water, then line them up on a clean surface, covered by a clean tea towel, until needed. The lids and rings should be placed into boiling water to sterilize, and then kept hot and covered, until needed. The lids should be new – not used, chipped or damaged in any way.
- You will need to have available, a large pot or canner with a lid, in which to process the dill pickle-filled jars. The pot should contain enough water to reach just below the level of the jar rings.
- It is wise to have all the ingredients on your working surface, ready to be packed into the jars, in assembly line fashion.
- Sometimes I use a product called “pickle crisp” to add to each jar of dill pickles, if I have it on hand. It is not totally crucial, but I think it does keep the pickles a bit crisper. I have had many years of successful pickle canning without using this product, so don’t worry if you don’t have it.
- When I have fresh, hot peppers available from my garden, I use one small hot pepper per jar. This year our hot peppers didn’t fare well in our garden, so I am using chili pepper flakes in place of fresh hot peppers. If you have hot peppers, by all means use them in your dill pickle recipe.
- Be patient when packing the cucumbers. They should all be lined up straight and, if necessary, you can use a wooden spoon to nudge them in place. Since my cucumbers are all fairly large, there aren’t enough small cucumbers to fill the jars to the top. In this case, it is okay to cut a few cucumbers in half, on an angle to fill the jars right up to the top.
Prep Time: 20 – 25 min
Processing Time: 25 – 30 min
Yield: 5 large mason jars
The ingredients & instructions are listed below the video for measurements & directions. Please enjoy this webisode of Cooking with Kimberly:
- 2 large baskets of No.4 cucumbers – if you are using smaller cucumbers, you will need more cucumbers to fill the large mason jars; in fact, you might choose to use smaller jars too.
- 2 sprigs and crowns per jar of dill with crowns
- 2 bay leaves per jar
- 3/4 tsp pickle crisp per jar – *optional
- 1 tbsp peppercorns per jar
- 2 cloves of garlic per jar
- 2 pieces of horseradish per jar – washed, peeled and cut into 2 or 3 inch long pieces
- 8 cups pickling vinegar
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- 1 tbsp chili flakes
- 2/3 cup pickling spices
- 5 cups of cold water
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp dill seeds
- Prepare the brine in advance. and have it simmering while you sterilize and pack the jars.
- Pour 8 cups of pickling vinegar into a large pot.
- Add in water, salt, chili flakes, dill seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns and pickling spices.
- Stir brine and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
- When brine has reached a boil, continue to simmer on low heat, until you are ready to ladle it into the pickle-filled jars. During this time the salt dissolves and the spices continue to infuse the brine with their essences.
- Sterilize the clean jars in boiling water and place them on a clean towel, on your working surface.
- Sterilize your clean lids and rings in a small pot of boiling water. Allow them to sit in hot water until needed.
- Drain water from cucumbers and place them in a large container – a large roasting pan is ideal.
- Into the bottom of each jar add 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, 1 piece of horseradish, 1 crown and 1 stem of dill.
- As you continue along, lay each jar on its’ side so you can start filling the jars with cucumbers more easily.
- The cucumbers can be packed tightly, but try not to bruise or break the cucumbers by forcing them in.
- I like to get the first layer of cucumbers into all of the jars, and then try to get the smaller cucumbers in on the second level.
- If you don’t have smaller cucumbers, you can safely cut the larger cucumbers in half on an angle, so your jars are filled to the top. It looks best if all the cucumbers are lined up straight and you can get more in by doing this.
- On top of the packed cucumbers, add another stem and crown of dill, 1 more garlic, and 1 more piece of horseradish and bay leaf.
- Ladle hot brine over the pickles, leaving about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of head space at the top.
- It is neater and quicker to use a wide jar funnel.
- Make sure that there are no unfilled air pockets in the jars. Just move the jars around a bit and the brine will fill in those spaces.
- Make sure you get some of the brine spices into each jar as you fill them with the brine.
- At this point, add in the pickle crisp and make sure the brine still comes up to 1/2 inch from the top.
- You might have to add more brine to each jar.
- Use a clean cloth and wipe around the jar rims to be sure there are no pieces of spices, dill or cucumber stuck to the rim.
- Apply the clean, new lids and secure with the rings.
- Do not over-tighten the rings – just tighten enough so they hold the lids down. You don’t want water from the canner leaching into the jars, and you don’t want the brine to flow out of the jars. Also, you don’t want the vinegar from the brine getting under the rings because they start to corrode over time.
- Transfer the jars into the boiling water on a holder to process the dill pickles.
- If you don’t have a holder, make sure you place a flat, round pizza sheet or some crunched up tin foil under the jars in the canner, so the jars don’t come into direct contact with the bottom of the pot. This ensures that the jars don’t crack, which doesn’t often happen, but it does happen sometimes, and it’s not worth taking a chance.
- Process the dill pickles for 25 – 30 min. When processing time is up, turn off heat, but leave jars in processor, with lid off, to cool down somewhat before you remove them from the hot water – about 20 min.
- Transfer dill pickle jars to your counter and set on a clean towel or a wooden surface, close to each other and covered with a large towel, so you don’t shock the hot jars, and they cool more slowly.
- As the dill pickle jars cool, they will make a popping sound, and now the lid will have a slight indentation in it.
- Once they pop, you are assured that the jars have successfully sealed.
- Allow jars to stand for 24 hrs before moving to a storage area. I like to re-check the jars to be sure each jar has a slight indentation on the lid. If there is no indentation, the jar has not sealed.
- If you have a jar that has not sealed properly, it is easy to remedy. Unfortunately, you will have to repeat the process. Remove pickles from the jar and transfer to a new jar, replace the spices and herbs, and if you have any brine left, use that, or prepare a small quantity of new brine. Discard the lid and ring originally used, and replace with new ones. Process, using the same instructions as above. This will solve your problem and you won’t have wasted a whole jar of your dill pickles.
- The dill pickles should be stored in a dark, dry area and they are ready to eat after 2 1/2 months.
- I like to leave them for 3 months, just to make sure the dill pickles have absorbed as much flavor from the brine and dill as possible.
I hope you try this delicious recipe and enjoy Mom’s Dill Pickles as much as we do.
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