Delicious, simple, classic dill pickles.
This recipe for home-canned dill pickles from the Ball Blue Book is so simple, you’d think at first blush it can’t be all that much. But many people pronounce these the best dill pickles they have ever had.
If you are thinking of making these out of season, the answer is probably not to try: the crispness of a pickle ultimately depends on how fresh a pickling cucumber is, and nothing can restore lost crispness. Make relish instead.
For a dill-pickle recipe that you can use with the the low-temperature pasteurization treatment, see “Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles” on the National Center for Home Food Preservation site.
Quantities of pickling cucumbers needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need roughly:
- about 500 g (1 lb) of pickling cucumbers per half-litre jar (US pint / 500 ml / 16 oz), if quartered;
- about 500 g (1 lb) of pickling cucumbers per litre (US quart) jar, if kept whole.
- 500 g / lb pickling cucumbers = 6 to 7 pickling cucumbers
- 750 g (1 ½ to 2 lbs) of pickling cucumbers = 1 litre / quart basket
- 2 ¼ kg (6 lbs of pickling cucumbers = 3 litre / quart basket
- 6.5 kg (14 lbs) of pickling cucumbers = 7 litres (US quarts) whole dill pickles
- 3.5 kg (8 lbs ) of pickling cucumbers = 9 x ½ litres (US pints) whole dill pickles
Source: Info courtesy cooksinfo.com .
Note from the Ball / Bernardin Complete Book: “Smaller pickling cucumbers yield crisper pickles. If you use pickles larger than 10 cm (4 inches), you will get a softer-textured product.”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Ring edition, page 328.
Jar size choices: Half-litre (1 US pint / 500 ml/ 16 oz) OR 1 litre (US quart / 32 oz)
Processing method: Water bath or steam canning
Yield: 7 x half-litre (US pint) jars
Headspace: 2 cm (½ inch)
Processing time: 15 minutes either size jar
Note that the size of pickling cucumbers used, and whether you halve or quarter them or not, will affect how many go into a jar, and therefore how much pickling liquid is needed.
- 4 kg pickling cucumbers (8 pounds)
- 1 litre water (4 cups / 32 oz)
- 1 litre white vinegar (5% acidity or higher. 4 cups / 32 oz)
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice
- 3 tablespoons pickling salt (OR non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub)
- 175 g white sugar (¾ cup / 6 oz)
- bay leaves
- dill seed
- chile flakes
- cloves garlic
- mustard seed
- Pickle Crisp
- Wash cucumbers well.
- Chill cucumbers overnight in fridge, or, let soak in a tub or sink of ice water for several hours.
- Trim both ends off the cucumbers, then halve or quarter them lengthwise. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Put the vinegar, water and pickling spice (in a spice bag) in a pot. Add salt (or salt sub) and sugar, (or liquid stevia.)
- Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- In each half-litre (US pint) jar put: 1 bay leaf, 1 peeled clove garlic, 1 teaspoon dill seed, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes per jar, ⅛th teaspoon pickle crisp. (Double all these measurements for litre / US quart jars.)
- Pack raw cucumber halves or quarters upright into the jars. Leave 2 cm (½ inch) headspace.
- Fill each jar with the vinegar mixture up to 2 cm (½ inch) from the top.
- If you are short of the vinegar mixture, top up the jars with either pure vinegar or a mixture of half vinegar / half water (do NOT use all water.) Bring your top up liquid to a quick boil in the microwave; mind the surge when removing.
- Debubble, adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Process in a water bath or steam canner.
- Process either size jar for 15 minutes; increase time as needed for your altitude.
How to water bath process.
How to steam can.
When water-bath canning or steam canning, you must adjust the processing time for your altitude.
Australia and New Zealand vinegar strength special notes.
What is the shelf life of home canned goods?
- If you do the larger jars, expect around 3 x 1 litre (US quart) jars.
- Note though that yields on recipes such as these vary wildly so always be prepared with extra jars, lids and vinegar; you often need it.
- The wide mouth half-litre (500 ml / US pint) jars work very nicely for this; it’s easier to pack the cucumber into them. On the other hand, some people say that the shoulders on regular-mouth jars help to keep the pieces of cucumber beneath the brine better.
- Instead of white vinegar, you could use apple cider vinegar (5% or stronger.)
- Instead of dried dill seed, you can use fresh heads of dill. Ball suggests 1 head regardless of jar size; the noted pickling author Linda Ziedrich suggests 2 heads per litre / quart bottle; the USDA suggests 3 heads per litre / quart bottle.
- Instead of the sugar, you could use the same volume amount of Splenda®, or, 1 teaspoon liquid stevia (we’d recommend Better Stevia liquid stevia )
- You could try adding two tablespoons of French vermouth, vodka or gin to each jar, to make Drunk Dill Pickles — the Thanksgiving crowd will NEVER know what hit ’em!
Source: Dill Pickles. In: Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 78.
Also referred to: Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 6-10.
Note these differences in approach:
USDA and Bernardin Guide 2013  Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 68 suggest leaving the cucumbers whole; the Ball Blue Book suggests cutting them in half. You can often fit more into jars if you halve (or quarter) the cucumbers.
USDA and Bernardin Guide 2013  Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 68 say to process ½ litres (pints) for 10 minutes, litres (quarts) 15 minutes; the Ball Blue Book calls for 15 minutes for both.
The USDA version does not call for garlic.
- Added idea about a small amount of alcohol;
Low-sodium dill pickles that you buy from the store tend to be around 250 mg of sodium per single pickle. Bicks 50% less sodium is 240 mg and Vlassic’s 25% less sodium is 250 mg, as of 2014. That’s still high, if you are trying to keep to your 1500 mg daily sodium allowance. The no-added salt version here is only 20 mg of sodium for a quarter of a jar.
Per one-quarter of a ½ litre (US pint) jar
- 33 calories, 458 mg sodium
Sugar and salt-free version
Per one-quarter of a ½ litre (US pint) jar
- 25 calories, 20 mg sodium
Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: Per one-quarter of a ½ litre (US pint) jar, 1 point.
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
* Better Stevia ® is a registered trademark of the NOW Foods Company.
* Herbamare ® is a registered trademark of the A. Vogel Corporation.
|↑1||Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Ring edition, page 328.|
|↑2||Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 68|
|↑3||Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 68|
Can you use Low pasteurization method with this recipe?
Here are the directions for that: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/quick_dill_pickles.html
Can I leave the sugar & stevia completely out of this recipe?
Yes, they are just seasonings in this recipe.
Is there a good alternative for a garlic pickle? No dill just garlic
Do you have to add pickle crisp?
No, it is optional.
I’ve done this recipe and after only 1 week they were 👍👍👍👍 DELISH
I ended up with twice as much liquid as I needed…should I be worried? So, I had to get twice as many jars and more cucumbers.
The projected yields in canning recipes are all phase of the moon! I wish they would switch to giving ranges (8 to 12 jars, for instance), instead of fixed numbers of jars that no one ever ends up with…..
Can I safely omit the sugar?
Yes, it is there as a seasoning.
Can you safely use zucchini instead of cucumbers in this recipe? Thank You!
Yes, you could. The Ball / Bernardin Complete book, page 18, says it’s okay to swap zucchini for cucumber in pickles. They give these directions. “Scrub and rinse zucchini; cut off stem end and a thin slice of blossom end. Cut in half lengthwise and into lengths appropriate to fit into jars, then cut zucchini halves into uniform-sized spears.”
I’m looking for a simple whole dill pickle recipe. Is it necessary to have sugar in canning dill pickles? We prefer sour dill over anything sweet but curious if this is absolutely a must. I can’t seem to find any “tested” recipe with simply fresh dill, sake, water & vinegar
(or perhaps there isn’t one out there). Thank you so much for responding. Email is provided. Mary Avila
Michael J Dolenko
The first time I made Dills I omitted sugar as I also like them sour. Turned out fine. However, I have been adding about half the recommended sugar since and it makes for a more rounded flavor. Maybe try half with none and half with a bit of sugar and see what you prefer
I am only making 2 lbs of pickles- as I am new to canning & am trying to do something which seems simple, I’m trying to figure out a smaller batch. Is there a version of this recipe that’s “safe / tested” rigged for 2 lbs of pickling cucumbers? Thanks in advance- Jason
You can make a smaller version of the recipe by reducing the quantities in proportion. Do your math on paper first. Jar size and processing time recommendations stay the same.
How long do you let these sit after processing, the usual 6 weeks?