Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Recipe from the University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension (With notes from Christina Ward)


  • 8 lbs. pickling cucumbers, 3 to 5 inches long

For Brine

  • 2 gallons water
  • 3⁄4 cups canning and pickling salt

Pickling solution

  • 1 1⁄2 quarts vinegar (5% acetic acid)
  • 1⁄2 cup canning and pickling salt
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar (optional…can be safely omitted or reduced depending on personal tastes)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons whole mustard seed (1 teaspoon per pint jar)
  • 10 to 12 fresh dill heads, washed (1 1⁄2 heads per pint jar), or 1 teaspoon dill seed or dill weed per pint jar
  • (optional) 1 or 2 garlic cloves per jar, peeled


  1. Wash cucumbers carefully. Trim 1⁄16 inch from the blossom end and discard. But leave 1⁄4-inch stem attached.
  2. Prepare brine by dissolving 3⁄4 cups salt in 2 gallons water. Pour over cucumbers, cover and let stand 12 hours. Drain.
  3. Prepare pickling solution of vinegar, 1⁄2 cup salt, sugar and 2 quarts water in a large saucepan. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean cheesecloth bag. Heat to boiling. Remove the spice bag.
  4. Pack cucumbers into clean, hot pint or quart jars, leaving 1 ⁄2-inch headspace. If desired, add 1 teaspoon mustard seed, 1 1 ⁄2 fresh dill heads and 1 or 2 garlic cloves per jar. Cover cucumbers with hot pickling solution, leaving 1⁄2- inch headspace. Remove bubbles with a rubber spatula. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth.
  5. Cap jars with hot lids and bands. Can use the plastic lids, as these are not processed.
  6. Place in refrigerator. If you’re using whole cucumbers, wait three weeks until ready to eat. If using spears or slicers, wait 3 to 5 days before eating. Pickles can be safely stored in refrigerator for approximately three weeks.


All vinegars used for pickling must be at 5% acidity. It will say on the label. (The majority of vinegars available in grocery stores are 5%; the exception is rice vinegar. Don’t use it!)

‘Headspace’ is the negative space measured from the top of the food in the jar to the rim of the jar. All jars must have a bit of space at the top; don’t fill to brim. ‘Canning & Pickling Salt’ is a specific type of salt that contains no additives. Table salts have chemical additives that prevent them from caking and sticking together; they’re no good for canning. Available at most grocery stores in the salt area.

Pickling Spice is sold at most grocery stores pre-mixed and ready to go. You can also make your own. Both The Spice House and Penzey’s sell a very high quality pre-mixed pickling spice.

Use non-reactive pots for making your pickling solution. (Meaning, not aluminum. Aluminum can cause a chemical reaction with vinegar that can change the taste of your pickles.)

Blue Garlic!!! Okay, this is kinda cool. It’s all about chemistry. Garlic has an enzyme (isoallin) that is related to sulfur. When exposed to heat and acid, these enzymes change state and will turn blue. It doesn’t happen every single time, but can often occur with older garlic that have an abundance of isoallin. In addition, if you didn’t listen and used table salt, the iodine in table salt causes the copper reaction and blue color. If you have blue garlic in them, YOUR PICKLES ARE OKAY TO EAT. Really, it’s totally okay.

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