Dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, melon pickles, dilly beans… My family loves pickles of all shapes and sizes. Here in Northwest Georgia, it’s almost pickle time, and we couldn’t be more excited! Whether you have a bumper crop of cucumbers this year or you head to your local farmers market to buy them by the basket, homemade pickles are very easy to make, even if you’re brand new to home preserving. And, you don’t have to limit yourself to just cucumber pickles, either. Almost any vegetable can be pickled, and some fruits can be as well. We even make a batch of watermelon rind pickles every year!
When I was growing up, my Grams made lots of pickles. The shelves that lined her basement stairs were full of crocks and jars of all types of pickles. Whenever I could, I helped her pick the cucumbers and make the pickles. I’ll never forget the smell of her kitchen during pickle making time… garlic, dill, onions, and of course vinegar filled the hot steamy air. As an adult, that smell brings back so many happy memories! Here are two of my favorite, super easy pickle recipes that you to make for your family this season.
Grandma Lila’s Refrigerator Pickles
Anyone can make my Grandma Lila’s Refrigerator Pickles. If you’ve never done any home preserving, you might be a little nervous about canning. Although most pickle recipes will require water bath canning, this easy recipe can be followed by anyone who knows how to boil water. The only equipment you need is a large stock pot and some jars or a crock for your pickles.
- 2 cloves of garlic (Or more, if you like!)
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 4 heads of fresh dill
- 1 quart of water
- ¼ cup of canning salt
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- Enough cucumbers to fill your jars or crock (They can be whole, sliced, or cubed however you like them.)
Making the Pickles:
- Wash your cucumbers in fresh, clean water.
- Wash your crock or jars and then sterilize them in a large stockpot of boiling water. Keep them warm until your ready to fill them.
- Chop your onions into big pieces, peel your garlic, and slice or cube your cucumbers if desired.
- Now, pack your onions, garlic, and cucumbers into your jars or crock.
- Add the dill to your jar or crock according to your family’s taste. I use one head of dill for each pint jar or four heads of dill in my pickle crock. It might take some experimenting to get the amount just right.
- The next step is making the brine. Combine the water, salt, and vinegar in a large stock pot and bring it to a boil.
- Fill your warm jars or pickle crock with the brine. Make sure the cucumbers are completely covered with the brine. Sometimes, I have to make a second batch if I’m making a lot of pickles.
- Once the pickles have cooled, cover them and put them in the refrigerator. If you’re lucky enough to have a cool cellar, you can store them there, just like they did in the old days. They’re ready to eat in just four days, but they get even better over time!
My Favorite Bread and Butter Pickles
I love the sweet and tangy crunch of these Bread and Butter Pickles on sandwiches and burgers, or straight out of the jar for a snack. Although this recipe does require water bath canning, it’s not difficult at all. If you’re new to water bath canning, be sure to check out our step by step guide. This recipe makes a total of eight pint-sized jars of pickles.
- 4 cups of white or apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of celery seed
- 2 tablespoons of mustard seed
- 2 cups of pure cane sugar
- ½ cup of canning/pickling salt
- 2 pounds of onions
- 6 pounds of pickling cucumbers
- 2 quarts of ice and cold water
Making the Pickles:
- Start by washing your cucumbers in clean, cold water. Cut the ends off the cucumbers and slice them into ¼ inch rounds.
- Prepare the onions by peeling them and cutting them into thin slices.
- Put your cucumber and onion slices into a large bowl. Sprinkle them with canning salt, pour in the ice water to cover, and allow the mixture to sit for about three hours.
- Before you start making the pickles, prepare your canning equipment by washing and sanitizing your jars. Keep the jars warm until you’re ready to fill them.
- In a large stockpot, combine the vinegar, peppercorns, turmeric, celery seed, mustard seed, and sugar. Heat to a boil and stir well to combine.
- Drain the onions and cucumbers and rinse them under fresh, cold water. Now, add them to the mixture in your stock pot and return it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and keep it warm while you pack your jars.
- Fill your jars with cucumbers and onions leaving ½-inch of headspace. Don’t pack the jars too tightly.
- Ladle the hot liquid over the cucumbers, remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims, and put the lids on your jars, placing the jars in the canner as you go.
- Be sure there’s an inch of water over the top of your jars, put the lid on your canner, and bring it up to a full boil. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
- After the pickles have finished processing, allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so, and then remove them from the canner. After at least 12 hours, you can check the seals, wash and label the jars, and store in a cool, dark, dry location. Allow the flavors to develop for at least four weeks before eating. Sealed jars can be stored on the shelf for up to one year.
Once you’ve tried these two easy recipes, you’ll be hooked on making homemade pickles. Be sure to experiment with other vegetables and fruits. Pickling is a fast, easy, and delicious way to preserve the harvest, so you and your family can enjoy homegrown food all winter long!