Grandma’s Easy “No-Canning” Dill Pickles

Grandmas Pickles

This recipe for Grandma’s No Canning Pickles is one she made all the time. The taste is incredible, very tasty and nice and crisp. These are also super easy to make. This is a must-try recipe you just have to make.

Growing up on our farm in Michigan, I remember my sisters and I eating my grandmother’s wonderful pickles. My grandfather would gather a lot of cucumbers from our large garden for her to make in the summer.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers in garden
Boston Pickling Cucumbers growing in my garden

I personally grew the Boston Pickling cucumbers but I also purchased locally grown at a farmers market as a taste test. The taste is good but nothing like the Boston Pickling variety. If you had not ever had the Boston variety, you would love them! I decided to do both, and a couple of each variety in the same jar to test it. Both were excellent with a similar taste – but the Boston variety won out with taste and crispness.

For my garden I grew almost all my own seedlings. I had quite a lot of plants growing inside and loved watching it grow as that signaled spring was very close.

I also tried two very distinct pickling spices. One was Mrs. Wags Pickling Spice from a local store. The taste was actual very unique and slightly zesty. While I liked it, I wanted to try a different brand. My sister directed me to contact The Nutmeg Spice Company located in Connecticut. You will need to call them (860) 261-5781, and ask where you can find their products at a store in your area. They package their unique spice blend for various stores across the country and priced extremely reasonable ($5.99) for a 5.5 oz jar – a great deal. In Michigan Polly’s Country Market in Chelsea carried it under their name. It did not disappoint at all. The taste was just incredible. While the other pickling spice was also good and unique in its own way, the one made by The Nutmeg Spice Company was just outstanding.

You want to start with firm pickles that are no more than 4″ in length. Make sure the pickles you picked have no bruises or blemishes. Wash each one well and lightly scrub a vegetable brush over them to remove the tiny little black cucumber spikes on them. Pat them dry.

black spikes on cucumbers
Scrub the black spikes off cucumbers before pickling

Decide if you want slices, whole, or both. I actually did both. For whole cucumbers, prick them with a fork in several places all around, being careful not to have the fork go through the pickle. Then cut off 1/8″ on each end (1/8″) as the ends are the ones to get mushy first if not cut.

If you are using slices or long spears, you do not need to prick the pickles but you will still want to cut 1/8″ off the end. Make your cuts or slices (I prefer spears) and set aside.

Prepare the garlic cloves by removing the skin using the flat end of a knife, pressing down on each one but not too hard – just enough to release and remove the skin but not bruise the garlic clove.

Cut your celery stalks into thirds (if celery is long or in half if you have shorter stalks). If the stalks are large and fat, cut them in half lengthwise so they fit inside the jar. Set aside.

ingredients for making dill pickles
Prepping to make dill pickles

Wash and dry the dill in a colander. Cut most of the stems off so all that remains is the dill part and 2″ of the stem.

Place on separate plates or on a large cutting board, the sliced celery, garlic cloves, and cut dill. Have the pickling spice, alum, salt, vinegar and water ready to go.

dill and garlic for no canning pickles
Dill and garlic

Sterilize the jars and lids separately (you will not be canning these jars – just sterilizing them). Keep the water hot with the jars and lids while you are prepping the jars to keep the jars hot. Using a canning jar lifter, grab one jar from the hot water, and start inserting the ingredients. For each quart jar, insert the cucumbers (whole, sliced or both), celery in between with 2 sprigs of fresh dill, pickling spice, alum, salt, 3 garlic cloves and the apple cider vinegar (or distilled white vinegar).

Note on vinegar’s: One batch I made using Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. I did not notice the huge amount of sediment in the bottom of the jar and as a result, the liquid was not clear in the jars. The second batch I made I used Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar with no residue in the bottom. The taste was fantastic. When you are using apple cider vinegar that has sediment in it, your pickles will be cloudy and not taste quite right. Always use clear apple cider vinegar – without the “mother”. You can also use white distilled vinegar. The taste is slightly different but both are fantastic.

Add enough water making sure you come to 1/2 inch from the top (do not overfill), and 2 more sprigs of dill on top. Note on water: If you have well water, you may want to use distilled water. Using tongs, remove one of the seals on the jar, then the band and slightly hand tighten but not tight or you will have a hard time opening it. Turn the jar upside down for 2 days, then 2 days with the jar upright, and continue for 1 week. Repeat the process for the other jars. You will be able to make 4 quarts or you can do one jar at a time (refer to the ingredients listed for each jar).

Your lids will seal during the time they are resting. Should one of the lids not seal (you will hear it pop) place it in the refrigerator for a day and it seal. You will have the tastiest pickles ever. Store in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator.

dill pickles

Grandma's Dill Pickles

Yield: 4 Qts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 7 days
Total Time: 7 days 20 minutes

Growing up on our farm in Michigan, I remember my sisters and I eating my grandmother’s wonderful pickles. My grandfather would gather a lot of cucumbers from our large garden for her to make in the summer.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs pickling cucumbers (nothing over 4")
  • 12 garlic cloves (3 per jar)
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, most of stems removed
  • 4 Tbsp. Kosher salt (1 Tbsp. per jar)
  • 1 Tsp. of Alum (1/4 Tsp. per jar)
  • 8 Tbsp. Pickling spice (2 Tbsp. per jar)
  • 4 Cups Heinz apple cider vinegar or white vinegar (1 Cup per jar)
  • Water
  • 4 - 4 Qt canning jars with lids
  • 8 celery stalks (2 per jar), sliced to fit in jar

Instructions

  1. Prep the pickles first by washing and pat dry. Use a vegetable brush to lightly brush off the black spines on the pickles.
  2. Lightly wash and drain the dill in a colander. Cut the stems off leaving 2" plus the head of the dill. Set aside.
  3. If using whole pickling cucumbers, prick them with a fork in several places all around (only if using pickles whole). Cut off 1/8" on each end. The ends if not cut off, tend to get mushy first. If you are using long spears or slices, you do not need to prick them but still cut off 1/8" on each end.
  4. Prepare the garlic cloves by removing the skin using the flat end of a knife, pressing down each one but not too hard - just enough to release and remove the skin. Set aside.
  5. Cut the celery stalks into thirds and set aside. If the celery stalks are large, you can slice them in half lengthwise so they fit into the jars.
  6. Place the sliced celery, garlic, pickles and cut dill on a large cutting board or on separate plates. You also want to have the pickling spice, alum, salt, vinegar and water ready as well.
  7. Sterilize the jars and lids (with the bands) separately by boiling them, then reduce the heat to medium high to keep them hot.
  8. Using a canning jar lifter, grab one jar at a time, start filling. For each quart jar, insert the cucumbers, celery in between, 3 garlic cloves, 2 sprigs of fresh dill, apple cider vinegar, pickling spice, alum and salt. Add enough water to 1/2" from the top (do not overfill), and place 2 more sprigs of dill on top.
  9. Using salad tongs, remove the hot lid (seal) and place on each jar, then screw the band on but not too tight. Repeat the process with the other jars.
  10. Turn the jars upside down for 2 days, then 2 days with the jar upright, and continue for 1 week. The result are tasty pickles with a nice crunch. Enjoy

Notes

Do not use large pickles over 4". You will get more pickles in a jar by slicing them or cut into spears. Be sure to cut a small portion 1/8" off of each end as the ends tend to get very soft first, even if cutting in spears. The best pickling spice I found so far is from the Nutmeg Spice Company in Connecticut. You can call them to find out what store carries it in your area. They package their spice for many different stores throughout the country. For the Apple Cider vinegar, I used Heinz Apple Cider vinegar as it does not have "the mother". You want the vinegar to be as clear as possible. If you use apple cider vinegar with "the mother", the taste is a little different plus it makes your jars cloudy. You can also use white distilled vinegar and it also has a great taste.

Did you make this recipe? We'd love to hear from you!

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Michele Wallace

Entrepreneur and author of A Plant-Based Revolution.com. Michele has also earned her Plant-Based Nutrition Certification from eCornell University. The book is an easy and complete guide for those wanting to get healthy and offers step-by-step instructions, including over 85 delicious and healthy recipes.
A Plant-Based Revolution is dedicated to whole food plant-based nutrition.

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