My Mom’s Dill & Garlic Pickles

Last year I made several different kinds of dill pickles and these were our favorites! It’s my mom’s old recipe. She sent me the yellowed newspaper clipping, bordered with Scotch tape.

My mom’s recipe

Last year, I didn’t add the alum but this year I did, just wanting to taste it the old original way.  I begged some grape leaves off my neighbor’s both years. They’re supposed to help keep the pickles crisp (as is the alum).

My Mom’s Dill & Garlic Pickles

  • 20-25 4" cucumbers
  • 12-16 heads of fresh dill (2 per quart)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic (1 per quart)
  • 6-8 hot red peppers (1 per quart)
  • 1/8 tsp alum per quart
  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • grape leaves (1 per jar)

I'm not going to give detailed directions on canning because I'm still pretty new to it myself. This recipe said to wash the cucumbers, then soak in water overnight. I skipped that step last year and just washed them. This year I washed them and soaked them in water while I was prepping everything else. I did cut off the blossom end, which is also supposed to help keep the pickles crisp.

You need to sterilize the jars, which I do in the dishwasher. You also need to sterilize the lids and rings, which I do in a pan of boiling water on the stove. (I just recently learned you don't have to leave the rings on after the jars have sealed and cooled--in fact, it's recommended you do not!

You'll also need a hecka big pot wherein you can quart jars covered by an inch of water. I have my mom's old pot, as well as her old metal thing that keeps the jars off the metal bottom of the pot so they don't bang into each other. And her old funnel and thing to lift the jars with. Bring that big old pot of water to boil while you're prepping everything. It will take a while. I also always put a kettle of water onto boil so I can top off the boiling water bath if needed.

In a large pan, bring the salt, water and cider vinegar to boil.

Stuff as many cucumbers into each jar as you can. You can slice them or quarter them if you like. I try to pick small and keep them whole but this batch of cucumbers I'm growing this year seem to grow 8" overnight so most of mine are cut.You need some room to cover them with the brine so make sure you have at least 1/2-3/4" clearance.

Add 2 heads of dill, 1-2 cloves garlic, 1 hot red pepper and 1/8 tsp alum (if using). Pour the vinegar mix into each jar (using a funnel helps), leaving 1/2" headroom (space between the liquid and the lid). Add a (washed) grape leaf to each jar. Then put the lid and ring on.

Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Makes 6-8 quarts depending on the size of your cucumbers.

One of my favorite blogs on canning foods is Food In Jars. You can read her post here about removing the rings. She also has a book out, which I’ve not yet seen but think must be fabulous having been a regular reader of her blog this past year. (The book is here on Amazon, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round. Disclosure: I’ll make a <very> small bit of money if you buy after clicking.)

I made 9 quarts tonight after dinner. It was too hot earlier in the day to even think about turning on the stove and boiling water. But I’d been saving up cucumbers all week and my friend had dropped off the grape leaves this morning so the pressure was on!

Dill Pickles



  1. No one asked ,why the grape leaves.Grape leaves keep the pickles firm,you don’t need alum

  2. I haven’t opened any yet from this year. I like to give them a couple of months. I will try and remember to post a comment here or update the post when I do!

  3. So have you decided yet if the alum makes any difference?


  1. […] and grab a jar of pickles (or peaches, apricots, pears or tomatoes).  I had my mom send me her old garlic and dill pickle recipe last year. Last night, I made 7 quarts of them, having saved up cucumbers all week in the fridge. […]


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