Making, Canning, & Storing Homemade Pickles

Why not learn how to make pickles right in the comfort of your own home? It’s easier than you may think, and that homemade crunch is something pretty spectacular. And what’s great about learning the process is that it extends to other parts of your shelves!

Knowing how to pickle will help you save a lot of your other veggies before they’re expired and ready to toss in the garbage. Onions, carrots, and even peppers can be saved for a rainy day. Now keep reading so you can master the fine art of pickling—it’s not that hard, we promise.

What Is Pickling?

First things first: what exactly is pickling?

Put simply, pickling is preserving the life of food through a specific process of fermenting (the healthier option) or using vinegar (the quicker method). And when you combine this process with cucumbers, you get the best crunchy snack—pickles can be tangy, sweet, salty, or even spicy!

Now, we’re specifically talking about making your own pickles today because homemade pickles are our favorite—so make sure not to confuse the pickling process with pickles in and of themselves.

Of course you can pickle anything from onions to peppers to even pig’s feet, but we’re focused on this lunchtime classic instead Still, the actual process of pickling can be quite simple, even if you’re a beginner—and once you’ve learned it, it’s pretty easy to apply it to other foods.

How to Make Homemade Pickles

Step 1: Prepare the Brine

Place water, salt, vinegar, and alum in a pot and bring it to a boil. After a few minutes, transfer it into a pitcher or a different container for it to cool.

Step 2: Prepare the Cucumbers

Clean your pickles and then cut them into spears or chips (whatever you prefer). This part of the process includes using a soft brush to remove any dirt or prickles.

Step 3: Place Your Cucumbers in the Jars

Now it’s time to fill up your jars with your cucumbers. Be sure you have washed and dried your jars and they’re ready to hold some homemade goodness. It’s important that you leave enough room for the brine to freely move throughout the jar, so don’t pack the cucumbers in too tightly.

Step 4: Add the Garlic, Dill, & Brine

Once your jars are filled with cucumbers, throw in your garlic and dill. Then pour your brine into each. Be sure to fill jar up to the neck.

How to Can & Store Homemade Pickles

Step 1: Seal the Jars

Sealing the jars takes more than just twisting the lid. There are two ways to make the magic happen:

  1. Use a steam canner: Using a steam canner is quite easy! Ensure that your steamer is filled with three quarts of water, then place the jar on the steam canner and place the lid on the canner to bring it to a boil.

Once you can visibly see steam coming out of the hole on the lid of the canner, process it for 10 minutes. Finally, lift the jars off the steam canner and allow them to cool.

  1. Use a hot water bath canner: You’ll need a pot large enough to hold at least 3 jars to make this worth your while, and it could take up to 30 minutes for that much water to boil. Also note that you will need water to reach over the tops of the jars by at least 1 inch.

Once your jars are in the water, allow them to soak for 10 minutes. After soaking, they should be lifted and set in a cool place to store overnight.

Step 2: Store the Jars

After all the seals have cooled, it’s time to store your jars appropriately. The most important thing here is to double check your seals and make sure the jar tops don’t easily pop off.

Pro tip: press in the center of the top; if it buckles up and down or makes a popping sound, it is not sealed yet.

Step 3: Eat the Pickles

After 24 hours, the cucumbers will have been pickled and you can start snacking. But for the most flavorful bites, it’s advised to wait at least two weeks of fermenting.

Pro tip: homemade pickles can last up to a year if sealed appropriately. Once they’re opened and living in the fridge, they’re good and fresh for about a month.

Ingredients & Supplies for Making, Canning, & Storing Homemade Pickles

Before you jump into the process, you’ll need to gather up some necessities. Your canning supplies and ingredients should include the following:

Essential Pickling Supplies

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 steam canner with rack
  • Quart canning jars
  • Labels in the style of your choice (we recommend dissolvable)
  • A jar lifter(it’s a must!)
  • Ball regular mouth lids and bands
  • A jar funnel

Essential Pickling Ingredients (for Classic Dill Pickles)

  • 12 small or 8 medium cucumbers (crisp is key!)
  • 1 1/3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt (without iodine)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp alum
  • 1 tsp garlic per jar
  • 1 tbsp of dill per jar (adjust to preference)

Creative Homemade Pickle Recipes We Love

Best Homemade Refrigerator Pickles from A Spicy Perspective

“How to make pickles, no canning required! These perky crisp pickles make great sandwich toppers.”

Jar of pickles on white countertop

Easy Homemade Pickles from Cookie and Kate

“These pickles are ready after a short chill in the refrigerator (as little as one hour), and they keep for several weeks.”

Cut homemade pickles in jar and cup on marble counter

Best Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles from Foodie Crush

“Fresh garlic, homemade pickling spice, and chili peppers give these easy, traditional homemade dill pickles a seriously delicious, spicy kick.”

Jar of pickles and herbs sitting on kitchen counter

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles from Brown Eyed Baker

“A wonderful, simple recipe for homemade refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles. No canning equipment required! Just prepare and pop in the fridge!”

Sealed mason jar full of pickles on wooden counter

Kosher-Style Dill Pickles Canning Recipe from Grow A GoodLife

“These kosher-style dill pickles have a well-rounded briny flavor that is a delicious balance between sweet and tart. They are crisp, crunchy, and infused with dill, garlic, and enough saltiness to satisfy your pickle cravings.”

Small mason jars with metal lids holding pickles and sitting on tablecloth

Want more tips for making healthy snacks? Check out our Real Food Mini Guide.