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Spicy Dill Pickles

The "spicy" factor is really optional, here. Just leave out the chili flakes. Recipe may be halved.
Servings: 12 pints


  • Canning pot, tongs, and accesories, pint jars, lids and rings for hot water bath canning.


  • 6 lbs Pickling Cucumbers As close to 4 inches as possible, or trimmed
  • 8 cups white vinegar cider vinegar works, too
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup pickling salt plus extra for optional crisping period
  • ice for optional crisping period
  • 12 fronds fresh dill optional, 1 per jar
  • 12-48 cloves garlic optional, 1-4 per jar
  • 4 tbsp dill seeds 1 tsp per jar
  • 4 tbsp whole peppercorns 1 tsp per jar
  • 4 tbsp mustard seeds 1 tsp per jar
  • 2-4 tbsp red pepper flakes optional, 1/2 - 1 tsp per jar


  • Scrub the cucumbers in clean, cold water.
  • Slice the top and bottom tips off of each cucumber and discard. [Pay careful attention to those point where the cucumber grew from the plant. That's where dirt and bacteria can hide!]
  • Quarter each cucumber lengthwise into 4 inch spears, or slice into thick coins, or otherwise slice so cukes may be packed to fit below the entire height of the screw-top area of the mouth of a canning jar.
    NOTE: I usually end up with several undersized cukes which I place in a separate pint jar whole or chop into finer slices and place in a half or quarter pint jar for charcuterie plates.
  • OPTIONAL: For extra-crisp pickles, if desired, soak sliced cucumbers in ice water mixed with several tbs pickling salt for 4-5 hours before, rinsing, draining, and moving on.
  • Bring a hot water canning bath to a boil.
  • In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and 3/4 cup pickling salt to a boil over high heat, so that the sugar and salt dissolve. Leave to simmer on the stove.
  • In sterilized warm pint jars, add the spices and optional fresh dill, pepper flakes, and/or garlic, divided evenly.
  • Pack the first six jars tightly with sliced cucumbers.
  • Fill those jars with the hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  • Seal with lids and rings, making sure the rings are not too tight.
  • Place the first six jars in the boiling hot water bath and process, covered for 10 minutes, counting from when the water has come back to a full boil.
  • In the meantime, fill the remaining spice-filled clean hot jars with cucumbers and then the vinegar mixture and seal with lids and rings.
  • Remove the first batch of cans from the water after 10 minutes and allow to cool completely on a rack.
  • Process the second batch of cans as you did the first - that is, for 10 minutes, once the pot has come back to a rolling boil, cooling afterward on a rack.
  • Check to insure that all lids have properly sealed and tighten rings.
  • If any have NOT properly sealed, just pop them in the fridge and eat them first, or share with friends with the instructions to refrigerate promptly. As is, the pickles should last in the fridge for at least 8 weeks.
  • Properly sealed pickles may last years in your pantry. Refrigerate after opening. And consume within 8-12 weeks.
  • Hot tip: Flavours sharpen over time. Pickles may be eaten right away. But you'll get a better kick if you let them cure in their brine for a week or two at very least.
  • Hot tip 2: Make sure to label the pickles, especially the spicy ones! The red pepper flakes might clue folks in, but not everyone can SEE the spice before they taste it!