Easy Dill Pickles with Garlic; Pickling 101

Summer means pickling and canning.

Or it used to for me.

When I lived in the US I made 3 or 4 different kinds of pickles, tomato juice, brandied peaches and cherries and canned lots and lots of tomatoes.

When I lived in the Vendée, with all of our fruit trees, I added jams, jellies and fruit butters to my repertoire and switched to freezing for all the tomatoes and soups.

When we moved here, I had no luck growing the gherkins for pickling.  For some reason, the gherkins and cucumbers were bitter.  I tried for 2 years and gave up.

No more fruit trees and everything else goes in the freezer.

I retired my burner and canning kettle.

I’ve been making these pickles forever.  Everyone in my family makes them – with variations.

None of us process dill pickles. 

I should clarify that.  When I lived in the US, and used lids and rings, I didn’t process the pickles.  Living here, using glass lids and rubber rings, I processed them.

I’m not suggesting you go against the Official Food Police…. But my pickles always sealed and we’re living to tell the tale. 

Easy Dill Pickles with Garlic


For each quart jar (or in my case, ¾ litre)

  • 1 slice onion
  • 1 ½ cloves garlic
  • 1 head of dill
  • 1 tbs pickling or sea salt (do not use Iodized or rock salt)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/8 tsp alum
  • 4 juniper berries
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tiny, dried, hot red pepper (about ½ inch long)
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small bay (laurel) leaf, broken
  • ½ cup white vinegar

Dill Pickles


  • Determine how many jars you need – roughly.
  • Wash the jars and put into a 250F (120C) oven for at least 10 minutes or while you do everything else.
  • Wash the lids and rings or rubber rings and put into a saucepan of simmer water for 10 minutes or until needed.
  • Put a big kettle of water on high heat
  • When the water is boiling:
  • Scrub the gherkins / pickling cukes and cut any that are large.
  • Put onion, garlic and half the dill into the bottom of the jar
  • Tightly pack in the pickling cukes.
  • Add the salt, sugar, alum and all spices.
  • Top with the rest of the dill, making sure that everything is 1/2″ below the rim.
  • Pour the vinegar over the top.
  • Dip a clean paper towel in boiling water (where the lids are) and wipe the rim of the jar.
  • Fill with boiling water, put lid and ring / rubber ring on, seal and process, boiling water bath, for 15 minutes.

They’re ready to eat in a few weeks, better in a few months.

For something quicker – try Refrigerator Pickles.

They don’t require any stove time and are ready in a day.

refrigerator Pickles

You can, of course, pickle other vegetables….

Pickled Beets are always a hit.

Pickled Beets

Last summer I pickled Green Beans – they were good – not wonderful, but good.

Pickled Beans
And remember when I was complaining about all the radishes and I said I was going to try pickling them?

Pickled Radishes
They were pretty.

We tried them after a day (they’re similar to Refrigerator Pickles – ready in a day or two).

They were okay – still with a bit of radish heat.

We tried them a few days later.  They tasted…. off.

We tried them a few days after that and they were definitely awful.

I don’t know if there was a bad radish that spoiled the jar or if it was just the recipe….

But I’m not sharing the recipe.

We threw them out.

For the curious – this is my canning burner and kettle – set-up near the wine press at our old house:

One doesn’t do this sort of labor in the kitchen here…..

6 thoughts on “Easy Dill Pickles with Garlic; Pickling 101”

  1. I used to make and bottle applesauce and tomato juice when I lived in WNY. Now, I occasionally do the applesauce but I’ve grown lazy and just buy tomato juice when I want it. One of the nice things about living in CA is the easy availability of jams, applesauce and such that are local, organic and picked at the peak of flavor – and bottled by someone else.

  2. I have never done any canning or preserving with the lids and rubber rings though I recall my mother always did it with fruit. I would love to one day – its on my bucket list.

  3. Zoomie, tomato juice is the one thing I really miss – I always added a bit of pepper, onion, garlic and celery to it….. But it’s not easy to make without getting a bushel of tomatoes at once – which my garden (thankfully ) doesn’t do and there’s no place to buy like that,
    Joey, the refrigerator pickles are all I’m doing lately, too – everything else in the freezer! – Pickles don’t freeze – I tried LOL
    manningroad, the glass lids and rubber rings are fussier than the US ‘lids and bands’ system. They look pretty, tho….

  4. Pickles… I love dill pickles! I planted dill in several spots in our tiny garden this year just so we would have plenty for pickling. ALL of it died and/or was eaten by larvae.
    Luckily, we have several vegetable stores nearby that sell mini-cucumbers when they’re in season. And when the dill starts flowering, they always put out big buckets full of whole dill stalks.
    I like your idea of a adding hot pepper or two to dill pickles.

  5. Elizabeth, as you know, I don’t do hot – but adding the little bird’s eye peppers just adds a very subtle… zing.

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