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When people think of homemade pickles, they often think whole pickles—or sometimes spears. But my favorite variety to can is Dill Pickle Slices (aka Dill Pickle Chips or Hamburger Pickles).
While whole pickles are fun and tasty, pickle chips are the real workhorse of the pickle world. Adding a big flavor boost, they shine topping sandwiches or burgers. And don’t forget that they’re a key ingredient in dishes like egg salad and tartar sauce.
Yes, pickles are a staple!
Every year, I make two or three multi-jar batches of Dill Pickle Slices. As an added benefit, this uses up my CSA cucumbers (which are never sized for canning whole). And it keeps my husband’s pickle addiction satisfied all winter!
What is the origin of this recipe?
When it comes to canning, you want to make sure your recipe is safe! Improperly home canned foods result in a few deaths every year. To deal with this you should go to trusted sources like university sites or the Ball canning site. They make a big investment in recipe testing and are more likely to be safe than your Grandma’s recipe or a 1960 canning book.
Because of this I hesitate to post canning recipes, but I got so tired of looking the base recipe up and cutting it in half that I decided to post it anyway! I took a recipe for standard dills and simply cut them up. The original instructions from the University of Wisconsin are located here (pg 21) .
Besides cutting the recipe in half and slicing my cukes, I did make a couple of other changes. First, I increased the vinegar slightly which is one of the few “safe changes” that are permissible in canning. I did this because a 1:1 ratio is starting to become the de facto standard—and frankly it’s just easier to work with.
Then, I left out the sugar, which I don’t like, and is there for flavor rather than food safety, per the University of California. And finally I omitted the the brine’s pickle spice because I don’t keep it on hand. These are plenty flavorful anyway!
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. Pickles are loaded with flavor and can put a sandwich or salad over the top!
Local, Seasonal Win. Pickles are an easy way to take the seasonal local harvest (your own, your CSA or farmer’s market) and extend it through the winter.
Versatile. I love knowing that I have pickles around all the time. Whether for a spontaneous Bloody Mary or extra flavor on a sandwich!
What You’ll Need
- Cucumbers. These become the pickle slices.
- Vinegar. This gives the sour taste and preserves the pickles safely. Your vinegar needs to be a 5% concentration, so check the label.
- Pickling Salt. This adds flavor and contributes to safety. Pickling salt is best since it doesn’t have things like anti-caking additives. Kosher salt may be substituted.
- Water. This keeps your pickles from being too sour.
- Dill. This provides the classic dill flavor. You can use dill seed if fresh dill is unavailable.
- Garlic, Mustard Seed, Black Peppercorns. These add flavor to the pickles.
- Canning supplies including canner, grabber, rack, etc.
- Canning jars and lids. I recommend purchasing these locally, at places like home improvement stores, since shipping is high.
Step by Step Overview
If you haven’t canned before, you should familiarize yourself with the process first. Sources like the National Center for Home Food Preservation are excellent resources. These instructions assume that you know how to can and omit basic canning details.
Wash cucumbers. Trim and discard both ends of the cucumbers, then slice into ¼ inch thick slices by hand or using a mandoline.
Prepare brine by dissolving salt in water. Pour over cucumbers, cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
Prepare pickling solution. Heat vinegar, salt and water to boiling in a large saucepan. Keep hot while you fill jars.
Place herbs and cucumber slices in hot jars. Cover with hot pickling solution, leaving proper headspace and remove bubbles. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth.
Cap jars with clean lids and rings. Adjust lids to finger tight. Process in a boiling water canner 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts at 0-1000 ft altitude. Adjust for higher altitudes (e.g. add 5 minutes for 1000-6000 ft.). Finish and test lids per standard water bath canning practices.
How to Serve
My very favorite way to use dill pickle slices is atop sandwiches or burgers. In fact, we always called them Hamburger Dill Pickles! The combo of salty and sour, with a juicy crunch makes any sandwich better!
You can even use the pickle juice in Bloody Marys!
A canned, unopened jar of pickles can be stored at room temperature, ideally in a cool, dark cupboard. Quality is generally best within a year or so. Ball and Kerr lids now say that the seal on their lids should last for 18 months–though in practice many people keep foods longer.
Old or new, always check that your seal is intact before opening a home canned food. A seal will sometimes spontaneously fail just sitting in the cupboard. Discard anything that isn’t sealed or appears “off” in any way.
The USDA says that once opened, pickles will last 1-3 months in your refrigerator. Pretty sure I’ve kept mine at least 3 months.
Sweet pickle slices are another popular sandwich pickles, but are not something I’ve ever warmed up to. They are similar but with a generous amount of sugar in the brine, giving them a sweeter, more relish-y, flavor.
You can also make pickle relish, which is something I enjoy having around. When I’m really lazy, I don’t even need to chop pickles to have them in a recipe! I use this recipe from the National Center for Food Preservation.
Tips & FAQs
I make my cucumber slices about ¼ inch thick. My mandoline has a setting for this. When I cut them, they always look a little too thick and I used to try to go slightly thinner. I eventually changed my mind about that since after the slices go through the canning process, the thinner slices tended to be a little fragile and would sometimes tear.
Don’t overfill your jars if you are canning these. That is the quickest way to seal failure!
If you are new to canning, or a wannabe, in addition the aforementioned site, consider checking out the Food in Jars blog which will have some more unique recipes that follow safe practices. And you can also join Facebook canning groups like the Food in Jars Community.
Can I skip the canning and just refrigerate these? Yes, you can. I’d recommend cutting the recipe in half then, because, as open jars, they should be used up within 3 months or so. (Note that some refrigerator pickles recipes that are not designed for canning may have less vinegar therefore spoil faster in the refrigerator).
I love making my own vinegar, but I never use this for canning because the acidity levels haven’t been tested. For safe canning you need a 5% vinegar solution which is the standard in most (but not all) commercial vinegar. Check your label to be sure.
I label my jars with the month and year right on the lid with a sharpie (since you can’t reuse lids). If I do multiple batches in a month, I indicate them as batch 1, 2 etc.
Dill Pickle Slices
- 4 pounds cucumbers
- 1 gallon water
- 6 Tablespoons canning and pickling salt
- 1 quart vinegar 5% acetic acid
- 1/4 cup canning and pickling salt
- 1 quart water
For the jars:
- 2 Tablespoons whole mustard seed (1 teaspoon per pint jar)
- 5-10 fresh dill heads (1-2 heads per pint jar, may substitute 1 teaspoon dried dill seed per pint jar)
- 4-6 garlic cloves (peeled, 1 per pint jar)
- 1 Tablespoon black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pint jar)
- Wash cucumbers. Trim and discard both ends of the cucumbers, then slice into ¼ inch thick slices by hand or using a mandoline.
- Prepare brine by dissolving salt in water. Pour over cucumbers, cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
- Prepare pickling solution. Heat salt and water to boiling in a large saucepan. Keep hot while you fill jars.
- Into each hot jar, place 1 teaspoon mustard seed, 1-2 dill heads, 1 peeled garlic clove and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns. Top with sliced cucumbers, leaving ½ inch headspace. Cover cucumbers with hot pickling solution, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove bubbles with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon handle or other non-metal utensil. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth.
- Cap jars with clean lids and rings. Adjust lids to finger tight. Process in a boiling water canner 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts at 0-1000 altitude. Adjust for higher altitudes (e.g. add 5 minutes for 1000-6000 ft.). Finish and test lids per standard water bath canning practices.
Originally posted Jul 20, 2011
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