How to Can Pickles

By Charlotte King

The best pickles can’t be bought at the supermarket. If you want great pickles, nothing compares to perfectly crisp home-canned ones. You can eat them as a snack whenever you want, or use them to top your burgers and hot dogs.

To can pickles, you have to obviously pickle the cucumbers first. Slice the vegetables, make the brine, and fill the jars. Then, you can use a water-bath canner to process the jars and preserve the pickles for months to come!

Read on if you want to learn how to make and can your own pickles at home safely!

How to Select the Best Pickles to Can

How to Can Pickles

Canning pickles is easy, but one of the few challenges you might face is achieving a good “crunch.” When I first started canning, it often happened that I’d have a delicious pickle on my hands, only to be disappointed by a rubbery “squish” and mushy texture.

After some research and experimentation, I’ve found that selecting the right cucumbers for pickling plays a big role in the resulting quality of the canned product.

You want your cucumbers to be as fresh as possible, so avoid getting them from the supermarket if you can. Not only will you be overpaying for them, but the vegetables will most likely be a few days old as well.

You can easily find great cucumbers at your local farmers’ markets and farm stands when they’re in season, but if you can’t drive there, you can search online for local farms near you and call around to ask whether they have what you need.

Now, you want to for small vegetables that are, ideally, about the size of your pinky finger and with thick skin and barely visible seeds. The size of the cucumber is key, no matter if you choose to slice them or pickle them whole. Larger ones are best suited for making pickle relish or hog feed.

Avoid vegetables that have that shiny wax coating that supermarkets use because while edible, it’ll change the texture of the pickles.

Here are some other tips to keep your pickles crisp when canning!

Ingredients for Making and Canning Pickles


The following are the quantities required to yield 7 to 9 pints (7.30 to 4.25 l).

  • 8 lbs (3.6 kg) of 3- to 5-inch (7.5 to 13 cm) pickling cucumbers
  • 4½ tbsp (about 40.5 g) dill seeds or 14 heads fresh dill
  • 1¼  (360 g) cup pickling salt
  • ¼ cup sugar (360 g)
  • 1½ qts (1.4 l) vinegar (5 percent)
  • 8 cups (1.9 l) water and, if you want, one or more of the following optional ingredients:
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • About 3 tbsp (26.5 g) whole mustard seeds
    • 2 dried red peppers


  • Water-bath canner
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen towel
  • Canning jars with their lids
  • Canning tools (wide funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, bubble popper, and canning bands)
  • Large nonreactive bowl
  • Cheesecloth

How to Make Dill Pickles

Can Pickles

Dill pickles are, basically, pickled cucumbers like any other variety of pickle. What makes them different is that they’re seasoned with fresh dill for a savory and particular flavor.

Here’s how to make your own dill pickles at home to can later, or to enjoy at the moment:

Prepare the Canning Supplies

Once you have your pickles ready, it’s time to prepare your canning supplies and sanitize your jars and lids so that your pickles will be safe from any harmful bacteria.

In most cases, this is what you have to do to can dill pickles in a boiling-water canner:

  1. Wash both the canning jars and the lids with warm, soapy water and rinse them thoroughly afterward. Avoid boiling the lids because you risk damaging their ability to seal.
  2. Lower the jar rack into the water-bath canner, put the jars in place, and fill the canner with water.
  3. Boil the jars (not the lids!) over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. As an alternative, you can wash the jars in your dishwasher.

It’s important that you keep both the jars and the lids warm until they’re ready to use. Most of the time, I try to take the jars out of the warm water one at a time, so they don’t cool down.

This can be particularly useful if you’re new to canning, but if you’re already experienced and can do the process quickly, then you can probably skip this last step.

Slice the Cucumbers

Slice the Cucumbers

Wash the cucumbers and then, use a sharp knife to trim off the flowering ends. There is an enzyme in those ends that will soften the vegetable over time- So, if you remove it, you will have crunchy pickled cucumbers.

Now, it’s time to cut the cucumbers. If you want to make spears, slice the vegetables lengthwise into quarters, or, if you prefer dill pickle chips, simply cut them horizontally into thin slices.

Fill the Jars

Place your sliced cucumbers in a large nonreactive bowl. Dissolve ¾ cup (216 g) salt in 2 gals (2.7 l) water, and pour the solution over your cucumbers. Let it sit for about 12 hours and drain.

Now, fill your jars with the slices. Add 1 tsp (5.7 g) mustard seed, and 1½ tsp (14 g) dill seed or 1½ heads fresh dill per each pint jar.

Make the Brine


To make the brine, you have to mix 1½ qts (1.4 l) vinegar, ½ cup (144 g) salt and sugar, and 8 cups (1.9 l) water in a pot. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of sweet pickles because the sugar won’t make the pickles sweet, but balance the pungent vinegar and salt instead. This will result in the irresistible sour pickle flavor.

Put the mixed pickling spices in a clean cheesecloth and tie it closed. Bring the mix to a boil.

Line up the jars on a kitchen towel, and cover the cucumbers with the boiling pickling solution, making sure to leave ½-inch (1.3 cm) headspace.


Let the jars cool to room temperature, and then, place them in the fridge. The cucumbers need some time to chill and soak up the brine if you want them to become really flavorful.

If you’ve cut your cucumbers into spears, leave them to cool for at least 48 hours. Dill pickle chips, on the other hand, will be ready in 24 hours.

You can keep them refrigerated for several weeks, and they will get better the longer you let them soak. I like to wait about 5 days to achieve the best flavor!

How to Can Dill Pickles In a Boiling-Water Canner Step-by-Step

Can Dill Pickles

If you’ve never used a boiling-water canner before, then I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can your Pickles

Now’s finally the time to turn your cucumbers into pickles! Just fill the water-bath canner with enough water to completely cover the jars, and place the rack on the bottom.

Place the jars on the rack and bring them to a boil. Process the jars by letting them sit in the water bath for about 10 minutes. Use the canning tongs to remove from the boiling water and let cool completely on a kitchen towel.

Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. You will know your jars have successfully sealed when you hear little “pops,” and notice that the lids are sucked in towards the jar.

To test the seal, you can press down in the middle of the lid. If it has no give, it means the jar is properly sealed, but if you can otherwise press the lid in, and it pops, even if it’s just a little, your jars are not sealed. In such a case, refrigerate the jars and use them within a couple of months.

Store Your Canned Pickles

Date and label your dill pickle jars, and store them in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Now you can simply pop a jar open and munch away some delicious pickles whenever you want!

If you’ve chosen to include garlic in your pickles, you might notice that the cloves will turn blue or green. If that’s the case, don’t worry! This is a natural reaction between the acid in the brine and the enzymes in the garlic that won’t affect the flavor or safety of your pickles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of dill should I use for pickles?

Dill is an incredibly versatile plant, as it has four different parts that can be used for cooking:

  • Fresh dill weed: “weed” is the leafy part of the plant. It’s considered an herb, and it’s used in sauces and dressings, and it goes great with seafood.
  • Dried dill weed: it comes the same part of the plant we’ve mentioned above, but dried. You can often find it the spice aisle of your nearest supermarket. Dried dill weed has a sweet and bright flavor.
  • Dill seed: the seeds come, quite obviously, from the fruit of the plant, and they can be found in the spice aisle as well, but they’re easier to come across. Unlike the herb, dill seeds are more aromatic, and they can be used whole or crushed to add a fresh lemony flavor.
  • Dill heads: this is the part of the plant where the flowers bloom. While many recipes for canned pickles call for this, they are actually difficult to source unless you grow them in your garden.

What type of vinegar should I use?

The type of vinegar you use will depend entirely on how you like your pickles. If you prefer a milder flavor, use cider vinegar. For a little more sharpness, go for white vinegar. Choose 10%-strength vinegar for extra-crunchy pickles.

Can I use table salt instead of pickling salt?

Unfortunately, you can’t use table salt for canning pickles because it contains additives and caking agents that prevent the grains from clumping together. Since these additives aren’t water-soluble, the salt won’t dissolve in water and will give the brine a cloudy and unappealing look.

Pickling salt, on the other hand, is pure granulated salt and doesn’t contain any additives. Moreover, it’s extra fine in texture, so it dissolves even faster in water. If you don’t have pickling or canning salt on hand, Kosher salt works, too.

Can I reduce the amount of vinegar?

DO NOT, and I can’t stress this enough, adjust the vinegar/water ratio to lower the amount of vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar is what’s required to preserve the pickles and make them safe for water-bath canning. If you want a more sour pickle, you can always increase the amount of vinegar, but never reduce it.


Canning pickles is not hard at all! The most difficult step of the process would be making the pickles themselves because it can take you some time.

However, if you follow my recipe, I can guarantee you that the results will be completely worth it!

All that’s left now is to gather the ingredients and supplies and get down to work!. If you liked this blog post, you might find some of our other canning guides interesting as well!

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