Homemade Dill Pickles are easy to make, and every Russian, Ukrainian and Polish person has their own way to prepare them. Some recipes require fermenting and cellaring, other recipes use canning as a way to preserve. There are even quick refrigerator pickle recipes. Don't get me started on the flavors, everything from sweet and sour to spicy vodka spiked pickles are available.
Growing up, we had a large backyard garden with many fruits and vegetables. Every summer, we would pick the pickles and 'can' them in glass jars to eat during the winter. We had a small cellar in the basement where we kept all our homemade canned pickles and Russian pickled tomatoes. Now I make my own garlic dill pickles with my kids.
These Russian Dill Pickles (солёные огурцы) are a classic pickle recipe. Adding lots of garlic makes the pickles taste even better. I use allspice berries in this recipe, but you can skip this step if you don't have any. Sometimes I add a single hot chili pepper among the pickles for a spicy twist. If you have home grown dill, use the dill crowns in the jar for extra flavor.
Dill Pickles with Cherry Leaves?
Ok, this just sounds weird, but YES! We always put a cherry leaf, or black currant leaf, or horseradish leaf into the homemade dill pickles. My mum always said that it helps keep the pickles crunchy. I never understood why. I've learnt it's the tannins in these leaves that give them a natural crunchiness.
Is Canning Pickles Safe?
There are a few rules to consider to ensure you canning is safe. The ratio of vinegar and salt in the pickling brine, length of time in the water bath, and using new lids with intact seals. You can re-use the lids, but over time they become less effective and can unseal. After the homemade dill pickles are sealed, check by ensuring the lid doesn't pop up in the centre. If it does, you can still use the pickles but they need to be kept refrigerated.
For proper canning guidelines, please refer to the USDA Canning Pickles Guide. The jars and lids must be clean and sterilized in boiling water for at least 10 minutes before using. When I seal homemade dill pickles in jars, I boil them in a water canner for at least 15 minutes. It's a bit of a process, but it's worth it.
Can You Use Regular Cucumbers for Pickles?
You can use any types of pickles for pickling, but it's best to use Pickling Cucumbers. They will have the right size, shape and texture, especially if you like crunchier pickles. It's hard to find Pickling Cucumbers here in Perth, so for this pickling recipe I used Baby Lebanese Cucumbers. The flavor was amazing, but the structure of the pickle inside was soft. It's best to use Eastern European pickles, which have a thicker skin. Other varieties that work well are Homemade Pickles or National Pickling cucumbers.
Some people confuse cucumbers and pickles. They are the same thing, except cucumbers are fresh, and pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in a brine.
My kids help me make Russian Dill Pickles (солёные огурцы). My son did a great job stuffing the jars tightly with cucumbers. The more cucumbers you pack inside the jars, the less pickling brine you will need. Ideally this recipe is for a 3 litre glass jar, or 3 quart sized jars. I suggested 3 pounds of cucumbers as a guide, but depends on how tightly you pack them.
Canning Dill Pickles is the best way to preserve your pickles. A classic Russian pickle recipe with lots of garlic, dill and spices. Home canning is easier than you think. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Homemade Dill Pickles
- 3 lbs /1½ kg small cucumbers with ends cut off
- 3 cups water
- 6 teaspoons pickling salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 3 cups vinegar
- bunch of dill
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon allspice berries optional
- 1 cherry leaf horseradish leaf or blackcurrant leaf
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 glass quart canning jars
- Sterilize the washed glass jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and allow to cool before using.
- Place fresh dill, a cherry leaf, peeled garlic cloves, allspice and bay leaves into the bottom of the jars. Pack in the cucumbers tightly.
- Bring the water, pickling salt, sugar and vinegar to a rolling boil. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers, filling up the jar leaving a ½ inch gap from the top. Close the lids tightly.
- Place the jar in a boiling water bath ensuring the lid is coveredFull canning recommendations from the USDA can be found here. Keep the pickles in the water bath for 15 minutes before carefully removing and placing upside down on the countertop until fully cool. The jar should be sealed and ready for storing in your pantry. If the top of your lid still pops, then the seal did not take, so keep refrigerated and enjoy your pickles right away.