Cold-Packed Sweet Dill Pickles: Canning Without a Pressure Canner or Jar Prep!

Brie, turkey, hummus. As random as it sounds, all three of these things are pairings our family has loved to enjoy with fresh dill pickles.

To be honest, I never enjoyed pickles growing up. They weren’t something I liked, so when my mom encouraged me to try her canned pickles… ugh. I was less than excited. But when I gave them a shot, I loved them! (Probably due to the addition of sugar in the brine.) Truly, I could never say I liked dill pickles until I tried hers, and now I’ve adopted the recipe into my arsenal as well!

I’m a beginning canner, so you’d better believe that this is an easy recipe.

Here’s what we did:

Prepare the Jars

Unlike some canning recipes, preheating the jars is not necessary. Just make sure your jars are clean and sterile, and you’ll be good to go!

sanitized canning jars
Need canning jars? You can find a variety of sizes and styles at

Prepare the Cucumbers

In total, we had just under 1/2 bushel of cucumbers, which yielded 22 quarts. I washed them in two batches. If they were small and thin, I kept them whole, and if they were a little thicker, I cut them into about 1/2 inch thick medallions.

Prepare the Brine

While I prepared the cucumbers, my mom teamed up with me to prepare the brine—a simple recipe of vinegar, salt and sugar.

Stuff the Jars

I filled each jar a little over halfway full with the cucumber medallions, then added 1/4 teaspoon of Ball Pickle Crisp Granules, a few sprigs of fresh dill, some quartered onion pieces, and a couple slices of celery. I enjoy the taste of the pickled onions, so I added about a 1/4 onion in each quart jar, but you can add less if you prefer! I then topped the jars off with more cucumbers.stuff the jars

Helpful Hint: Don’t be deceived. Though the jars may look full, be sure to hit the bottom of the jars against your hand. You’ll find that the cucumbers will settle down into the jars, and you’ll be able to fit another handful of medallions in.

Pour the Brine 

Since the brine is hot, make sure to pour the brine into the jars in stages—first filling all the jars up halfway, then filling them to the top. Once they’re full, stick a knife or chopstick down into the jar and move it around to allow for air bubbles to be released. Then, wipe off the rims of all your jars, place the lids on top and twist the rings on tightly.

Get Out the Canner 

I highly recommend investing in a quality canner. It will last you long enough to be well worth it. The canner my mom and I used is actually pushing 40 years! It was a gift from my late grandpa for my mom before she was married. He found it at a garage sale with a hole in it and welded it shut himself. It’s been going strong ever since.

Since the jars are cold, you’ll want to start with cold water as well—if you don’t, you risk the jars shattering. We filled the canner with water until it hit halfway up the quart jars, but you can add water all the way to the rim. Allow the water to come to a boil, then set a timer for 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes are up, you can remove the jars from the canner. For this step, you will definitely want a jar lifter. It will save your hands from being burnt by any hot water that has settled on the jar lids. Once all your jars are set to the side, empty out the hot water and begin again with your next set of jars and cold water.jar lifter


As hard as it may be, you need to let these pickles rest for at least a month before enjoying them. It is also important to note that you should wait at least 24 hours before moving them. In the meantime, enjoy the satisfying “pop!” of each jar sealing while you clean up.

Give this sweet dill recipe a shot! They’ll even win over the pickle hater of your family. Trust me, I hated pickles and now I’m so addicted that my mom had to send me home with a jar from a batch she had done earlier in the summer so I could enjoy some right away. They stand to be the best pickles I’ve ever had!canned pickles

Sweet-Sour Dill Pickles:

1/2 bushel medium or dill size pickles
Onion slices
2 Celery stalks, quartered
8 heads fresh dill

1 qt. vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup salt

Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar and water; bring to a boil.

Editor’s Note: Always follow USDA recommendations when canning.

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