Hello again! Sorry for the unexpected week without a post, but things are oddly crazy around here for having nothing much going on. Ever have that happen? Little tasks and outings just adding up to take up ALL THE TIME. Plus, you know, doing everything at “pregnant lady and a two-year-old” speed…which is really slow, for those of you who have never experienced it.

That said, one of those little outings was to a farmer’s market. Lacking a veggie garden of my own (currently! Hopefully I can change that by next spring, but we’ll see), I set out to get the stuff for homemade pickles from the market. I succeeded easily, since it is indeed canning season and pickling cucumbers are plentiful. Pickling cucumbers are the small ones with bumpy skin and fewer seeds than ones meant for eating. Of course, you can (and I do) just eat them, but they have thicker skin and always need to be peeled for that. This is one of my mom’s recipes, one we made frequently in my childhood. My dad loves them, and now so does my husband. Neither man actually much likes pickles from the store, and my husband won’t eat pickles other than these, period. So, I pretty much have to make them every year! This are traditional canned pickles, which mean they need to sit about 3 months before you can eat them, so that the cucumber will pickle all the way through.

This recipe is for 1 jar, but obviously you don’t usually make just one jar. Scale it up by the number of jars you pack, of course. How much brine you need varies depending on how many cucumbers you could pack into the jar, sorry. It’s generally between 1.5 and 2 cups per jar, but sometimes it’s more or a little less. Just keep the proportions the same and you can make as much brine as you need, it’s no problem. Oh, and the spicy will vary a lot depending both on what hot pepper you choose to use and how hot that particular instance of said pepper is. We almost always use jalapenos, but one memorable year my mom used serranos…my dad liked them, but none of the kids would touch them that year! The jalapenos yield the best balance of flavor and heat, IMO, even when they’re on the hotter side.

Recently Canned Pickles

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles


  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 sunburst of harvest-season dill (or several stems of baby dill, which is all you find in most stores. The tall ones with the sunburst tops are common at farmer’s markets or in your garden, though)
  • 1 jalapeno, whole
  • Medium and small pickling cucumbers packed in as tightly as you can (usually about 6, but it varies a lot with the sizes you can get)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar

2 TBS salt


1. Put the peeled garlic clove and dill sunburst in the bottom of a quart canning jar. You can put the jalapeno in now, at the bottom, or you can pack it in with the cucumbers if that makes everything fit better. I do it both ways, depending on the optimal arrangement for that jar.

2. Pack in the cucumbers as tightly as you can without scraping the skins. Put in the jalapeno now if you haven’t already.

3. Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a saucepan (or stockpot, if you’re making a ton at once). Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the salt is dissolved.

4. While it is still boiling (or as nearly so as you can while not burning yourself), pour the brine into the stuffed jar, leaving about 1/2″ room at the top of the jar (this is called headspace, and is necessary for the jar to seal properly and thus the pickles to pickle properly). The entire contents of the jar must be covered by the brine, so if you packed it too tall you’re going to have to do some awkward and possibly painful rearranging. Try not to have to do this :-). They may well float up as you lid the jar, and that’s okay, but it’s not okay to have veggie sticking up uncovered at first.

5. Quickly put the canning jar lid and ring on and twist closed. It should be firmly closed, but does not have to be ridiculously tight. Just tighten as you would if you were closing a jar to put back in the fridge after opening.

6. Technically now you should immerse the jar in water, bring to a boil, and boil for about 5 minutes to ensure that it will seal shut as it closes. That’s the “pop” noise you hear when a canning jar lid pulls in and makes a proper seal. Because the brine goes in boiling hot, however, this isn’t always necessary with pickles. I have found that if you just let them cool on the counter after filling and lidding they always make a good seal. It’s up to you. One way or another, let cool completely and then move to a cool, dark shelf to sit for about three months before using. Enjoy!