Growing cucumbers in your garden? Get a lesson in making pickles

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MILWAUKEE - Is your garden growing like crazy? We're going to help you save some of that food for the future. All summer long, Master Food Preserver Christina Ward is going to offer some ways to preserve your produce.

Kick Out The Jams

Preservation The Art and Science of Canning, Fermentation and Dehydration

Milwaukee Dill Pickles

  • Total Preparation Time: 3 hours
  • Special Equipment: Spice bag or non-reactive, loose tea ball
  • How Long Before Use: 3 weeks
  • Headspace: 1/2 inch
  • Process time: 10 minutes for pints / 15 minutes for quarts
  • Jars: 16-ounce, 32-ounce
  • Yield: 10–12 32-ounce jars

Note: Pickling cucumbers are rated by number. Read the section about pickling cucumbers to learn more.  This recipe makes a large batch of pickles; feel free to halve for smaller projects.

  • 15 pounds pickling cucumbers (number one-sized for whole pickles; larger sizes can be sliced into spears)
  • 2 cups onion slices
  • 24 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4–6 bunches of pickling dill (Baby dill can be used if pickling dill isn’t available. Dill seed is acceptable if no fresh dill is available.)
  • 1 cup yellow mustard seed
  • Pickling solution
  • 12 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups 100% pure canning salt
  • 1/3 cup pickling spice blend*

Brine solution

  • 3 quarts of cold water
  • 3 cups 100% pure canning salt

Step One:  Gently wash cucumbers. In a large bowl, mix cold water and salt.

Step Two: Remove the ‘blossom end’ (opposite of the stem) either scraping off the residue or cutting the ends completely off.  Place cucumbers in cold saltwater bath. Repeat until all the cucumbers are finished. Set aside.

Step Three: Clean and slice onions; set aside. Separate and peel garlic; set aside. Rinse pickling dill and place on kitchen towel to dry; set aside.

Step Four: Make pickling solution. In a large, non-reactive stockpot, mix vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.  Tie spices into spice bag and place into mixture.

Step Five: Over medium heat, bring pickling solution to boil while covered. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step Six: Into prepared jars, place a few strands of onion slice, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 Tablespoon of mustard seed, and dill flower head and leaves. Press firmly into bottom of jar.

Step Seven: Pack cucumbers tightly into jars, up to shoulder (or curve) near the top of the jar. (The ideal pack is when none of cucumbers move if you shake the jar.)

Step Eight: Remove spice bag from pickling solution.  Ladle pickling solution over peppers in jar, making sure that all peppers are covered and within the required headroom.  (You may have to add or remove a pepper.)  Remove bubbles.

Step Nine:  Put on lids and process.  Or Place in refrigerator.


This is the classic recipe for Midwestern-style dill pickles.  You can use this same recipe and technique on green beans and asparagus. If you like the ‘dilly’ taste, feel free to use this pickling solution on nearly everything.

You can make this ‘hot’ by adding a few hot peppers or red pepper flakes to the bottom of the jars.

*Pickling Spice

Makes 1/3 cup

  • 2 Tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 Tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 bay leaves (crushed)
  • 1 small (2-inch) cinnamon stick

Note: Midwesterners include whole clove in their pickling spice. East coasters omit the clove.  Follow your personal preferences.

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