Our family’s Favorite Kosher Dill Pickles – Homemade with fresh cucumbers, dill, and garlic. Tested and approved safe canning recipe for shelf stable storage.
I’ve been “puttin’ up” again, y’all! This time it’s our favorite kosher dill pickles. And when I say favorite, I really mean these are a favorite.
My daughter and grandson almost beg for these pickles every year. As a matter of fact, my old recipe notes say that the summer before our grandson was born, I put up 30 quarts of these dills. By the time he arrived in September over half of them were gone.
Use proper canning procedures!
Before I get started with the recipe, I want to take a minute to mention the importance of using proper canning procedures. If you haven’t canned before, or if it’s been a while since your last canning session, please review the process and get all your equipment ready before you start.
One of the best resources for new and seasoned canners alike is the Ball Blue Book. It’s published by the people who make the Ball canning jars. It’s available in lots of locations and on the web at amazon.com.
Some other good online resources
- National Center for Home Food Preservation (University of Georgia)
- Home Food Preservation Site (Pennsylvania State University)
- The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
The National Center for Home Food Preservation even offers a free online course in food preservation. It’s well worth the time for the amount of information you get!
Now, let’s get started making Kosher Dill Pickles!
I’m Kind of A Big Dill CUTE Baby Onesie®
Everything You Need to Know About the Ingredients
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For each quart jar of pickles, you’ll need approximately 5 pickling (or Kirby) cucumbers, one tablespoon of pickling salt, one tablespoon of dill seed (or 3 heads of fresh dill, a sprig or two of fresh dill fronds (optional), five black peppercorns, and two nice fat garlic cloves.
When purchasing your produce, keep in mind that a full boiling water canner can hold seven quart or pint jars. So, if you want to make a full canner load of pickles be sure to purchase enough produce for seven jars.
I tend to use quart jars for kosher dills because they fit the cucumbers best. Pickling (or Kirby) cucumbers are typically no more than 6 inches in length and will fit easily into quart jars.
Pickling (or Kirby) Cucumbers
For making pickles, you will need to find pickling cucumbers, also called “Kirby” cucumbers. You absolutely don’t want waxed cucumbers or English cucumbers for your pickling recipe.
Although “Kirby” is a specific variety of cucumber, these days any pickling cucumber tends to be referred to as a Kirby cucumber. They’re the shorter, plumper, sort of stubby looking cucumbers with a prickly surface. I’ve seen these called salad cucumbers in some produce sections but technically they’re simply pickling cucumbers.
The cucumbers can be left whole or cut into halves or quarters. I typically cut mine into halves unless they’re really large in which case I’ll quarter them. It doesn’t really matter so do whatever suits you best.
Dill Seed or Fresh Dill Heads
Dill seed is easier to acquire than fresh dill heads. It’s available in practically every grocery store and from online spice and herb sellers. Some years I have a good crop of dill so I have fresh dill heads available, but I can’t always depend on that. The availability of dill seed is very predictable.
If you happen to have fresh dill heads and want to use them, they work really well in the recipe. You’d use three fresh dill heads in place of each tablespoon of dill seed (1 fresh dill head = 1 teaspoon dill seed).
The fresh dill fronds are optional. I usually place a sprig or two in each jar merely for appearances. They’re pretty in there!
Yes, you really do need a special kind of salt for pickling. Pickling salt is widely available and easy to find. It doesn’t have any anti-caking or anti-clumping agents in it so it’s very pure. The additives in other salts can turn your pickles dark or make the liquid cloudy. It’s possible to use other salts, but amounts would have to be adjusted to accommodate for the differently sized salt granules. Better to just stick with canning salt.
Garlic and Black Peppercorns
Make sure that the garlic you use is fresh and free from blemishes. The peppercorns should be nicely fragrant.
Although I didn’t include it in the ingredients photo above, vinegar is a very important part of the pickling process. It’s the ingredient that gives pickles their distinctive tart taste and, most importantly, the ingredient that prevents botulism from forming in pickled foods.
Most pickle recipes call for distilled white vinegar and that’s what I use. I’ve been asked whether other types of vinegar can be used and the answer is yes. As long as the vinegar is at least 5% acidity.
Just keep in mind that substituting with other types of vinegar can change the taste and color of your pickles. They may have a more mellow taste and could also be darker in color.
Vinegar such as wine vinegar, salad vinegar, or homemade vinegar should not be used unless you can verify that it has an acetic value of at least 5%.
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
The Canning Process for Kosher Dill Pickles
Start by Heating a Canner Filled with Water
- The first thing I do when I start a canning session is to fill my canner with water and start it heating on the stove. It takes quite a long time to heat that much water, so I get a start on it first thing in the process. Check the canner periodically while you work to make sure the water stays at a steady simmer.
Prepare the Jars, Lids, and Rings
- My second step is to wash the jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse them well making sure all traces of soap are removed. Drain on a clean kitchen towel.
I put the clean jars in the canner and let them heat up along with the water. Some people hold them in a 200 degree oven. The canner just works best for me.
You need the jars to be hot when you’re ready to fill them because putting hot food in a cold jar can cause breakage. Likewise, putting a cold jar of food into boiling water is just asking for broken jars and all your hard work to end up in the bottom of the canner.
- Put the lids in a small pan with enough water to cover them. Set the pan on the stove with the lowest heat possible just to keep them warm until they’re needed. Set the rings aside.
Use Caution! Remember you’re working with lots of boiling water when canning. Always use a jar lifter for removing jars from the hot water to prevent scalding.
Prepare the Produce
- Peel and halve the garlic. If you’re using fresh dill heads, trim them and set them aside with the garlic.
- Prepare the cucumbers by removing 1/16 inch from the blossom end of each. Cut into halves or quarters as you wish.
Why remove that tiny sliver from the end of the cucumbers? It’s because there’s an enzyme that remains in the blossom end of cucumbers which can cause your pickles to become soft while in storage.
Make the Brine
- For each quart jar of pickles, measure 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar into a saucepan. Bring the water and vinegar to the boil. While the brine is coming to the boil, fill the jars (see next section).
Fill the Jars
- In each quart jar place 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon dill seed (or 3 heads fresh dill), 6 black peppercorns, and 2 halved garlic cloves.
As noted earlier, each dill head counts as a teaspoon of dill seed. I only had a few heads this time so I used one head of dill and 2 teaspoons of seeds in each jar.
Add Cucumbers and Hot Brine to Jars
- Pack the halved or quartered cucumbers into the hot jars.
- Using a canning funnel, pour the boiling vinegar and water solution over the jar contents leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
What is Headspace?
When a canning recipe refers to headspace, it simply means the amount of space between the top of the liquid and the top edge of the jar.
- I realized just as I was about to put the lids and rings on that I had not included the garlic in the jars. Yikes! Just goes to show you that with this recipe it’s never too late to add an ingredient. You could even slip a hot red pepper in there at this point if you wanted to!
Clean the Jar Rims and Add the Lids
- Wipe the top rim of each jar carefully with a dampened paper towel. This is to make sure that there is nothing on there that would prevent the lid from forming a complete seal.
- Place the lids on top of the jars and screw on the rings (bands) until just finger tight.
When applying the rings to the jars, don’t screw them down tight or force them. The jars must be able to expel air during the canning process in order to create a seal.
Process Using Low Temp Method
- Place the jars in the canner rack and lower them into the simmering hot water. There should be enough water to cover the tops of the jars by at least one inch.
- Place the cover on the pot. Bring the water up to between 180 and 185 degrees and process for 30 minutes (low temp pasteurization method).
Notes About Low Temp Pasteurization
I use the low temperature pasteurization method for these pickles. This method prevents overcooking the pickles and helps them to retain crispness during storage. The low temp method can only be used for high acid recipes and must be monitored carefully to make sure the water remains above 180 degrees for the entire processing time.
To use the low temp method, heat the water to a simmer while preparing the filled jars. Lower the jars into the simmering water and allow it to come up to between 180º to 185º F. Maintain the water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes.
If the temperature of the water drops below 180 degrees during processing, bring the temperature back up to at least 180 degrees and start the timing over so that the jars have a full 30 minutes of processing at 180 degrees.
Note that there should be enough water in the canner to cover the tops of the jars by at least one inch. I keep a separate pot of simmering water on the stove in case I need more water in the canner when I add the jars.
Cool Jars and Test the Seal Before Storing
- At the end of the processing time, use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the canner, place them on a clean dish towel, and allow them to cool completely (24 hours recommended).
- After jars are completely cooled, you may remove the ring bands. Be sure to test for a complete seal. Any jars that failed to seal are not shelf-stable but may be stored in the refrigerator.
How to Test For a Complete Seal
- How to test the seal? First, gently press the center of each lid. If there is any movement then the jar did not seal. Next, gently pull upward trying to lift the jar by the edges of the lid. If the lid pulls away, obviously it didn’t seal. The pickles are still good, but can’t be stored outside of refrigeration.
You will notice when you remove the jars from the canner that the cucumbers have become a more olive color and there is undissolved salt in the bottom of the jar. That’s normal. By the time the jars have cooled overnight all the salt should have dissolved. If the salt still hasn’t dissolved after sitting overnight, gently turn the jar over a couple of times to mix and disperse.
And just like that, you have seven beautiful jars of Favorite Kosher Dill Pickles!
- Store the jars in a dark, cool place such as a pantry or cellar. I recommend six weeks of standing time for the flavors to fully develop. For best quality, the pickles should be used within one year.
More Canning Recipes You’ll Like
- Pickled Okra
- Basic Salsa
- Sugar-Free Bread and Butter Pickles
- Home Canned Tomatoes
- Tart Pickled Cherries and Pickled Celery Sticks
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Favorite Kosher Dill Pickles
- 35 cucumbers pickling type (estimate 5 cucumbers per quart; more or less may be needed)
- 7 tablespoons pickling salt
- 7 cups white vinegar 5% acidity
- 7 cups water
- 7 tablespoons dill seed or 21 heads fresh dill
- 42 black peppercorns
- 14 garlic cloves peeled and halved
- Prepare home canning jars and lids according to manufacturer’s directions.
- For each quart of pickles, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar to the boil.
- Meanwhile, in each jar place 1 tablespoon pickling salt, 1 tablespoon dill seed (or 3 heads fresh dill), 6 black peppercorns and 2 halved garlic cloves.
- Pack halved or quartered cucumbers into jars. Pour boiling vinegar and water over cucumbers in jars. Affix the lids and rings.
- Process in simmering hot water (180-185 degrees) for 30 minutes (low temp pasteurization method).
- Remove jars from canner and allow to cool completely (24 hours recommended). Remove bands and test for complete seal. Store in a dark, cool place.
- Recommend six weeks of standing time for flavors to fully develop.
- After the jars have cooled, be sure to test for a complete seal. See instructions in the post for testing the seal.
- After processing, the cucumbers will be a more olive color and there may be undissolved salt in the bottom of the jar. That’s normal. When the jars have cooled all the salt should be dissolved. If the salt still hasn’t dissolved after sitting overnight, gently turn the jar over a couple of times to mix and disperse.
- Store the jars in a dark, cool place.
- Allow six weeks of standing time for the flavors to fully develop.
- For best quality, the pickles should be used within one year.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.