Great Grandma’s Sun Dill Pickle Recipe


Since I am a HUGE dill pickle fan, I have fond memories of my grandmother and mother making these dill pickles. They made many other types of pickles, but this recipe is my favorite. I grew up on the farm so most of our food came
from the garden for eating, canning and freezing; and chickens and livestock we raised on the farm. I remember our large cucumber and dill patches in my mom’s huge garden. Cucumbers were one of my favorites to eat right from the garden, sliced and salted out, sliced in salads, or especially dill pickles.

I know that my great grandmother passed this recipe down through the ages. This recipe dates back to the 1800s.

If you like dill pickles, these are the best dill pickles you will ever eat; and probably the easiest to prepare. (I am probably biased!)

Plant a large patch of pickling cucumber seeds and/or cucumber plants in the spring to be able to pick a quantity of cucumbers that are the same size. Because of lack of space in my garden, I plant mine on a 6-feet by 5-feet string trellis. I have also seen them grow on teepees or pallets leaning against each other. The JCMGs working in the Demo Garden grow them on wire hoops. My garden is still not a large enough patch so I also buy small cucumbers and dill at farmer’s markets, Kalona sale stands, Twin County Produce Auction, or from friends who have large gardens.

I like pickling cucumbers no more than four inches in length, preferably three inches. You can use larger cucumbers but they are harder to pack into the glass pickling jar. I only use pickling cucumbers for this recipe. I have found that the regular sized cucumbers tend to get soft when pickled.

Plant a fairly large patch of dill seeds in the spring that grow into dill plants. Dill is hard to find when you are ready to make pickles. Use dill sprigs when the seed heads turn brown. Also, use the hard stalks and green thread-like leaves in your pickling jars. The stalks and leaves provide the dill flavor to your pickles! NOTE: The seeds of the dill plant self-seed so be prepared to have a large patch the next spring. They easily pull up if you have too many plants.

I’m submitting this recipe now so you can think about your garden space for your patch of cucumbers and dill; and you can start looking for pickling cucumber and dill seeds. Make these pickles the same day or the day after you pick or buy your cucumbers. The cucumbers will start to get soft or moldy in a few days if they set too long.

Sun Dill Pickles:
  • 6-1/2 cups water
  • 3-1/4 cups Heinz cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup canning salt
  • 1 teaspoon alum
  • 1/2 large clove garlic (optional; I do not use garlic)
  • Dill sprigs, heads, and seeds

Wash the jars, flat canning lids, and screw lids in very hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. Always use glass jars.

Wash cucumbers.Use a wide-mouthed jar of any size you want (e.g., pint, quart, or gallon). They are easier to get your hand in to pack the cucumbers. Depending on the quantity of cucumbers I have, I fill my gallon jars first. If I am going to give jars to friends, I use wide-mouth quart jars or even pint jars. Pack the cucumbers as tight as you can. Less liquid is used if you pack them as tight as possible. Put the smallest cucumbers in the spaces. Pack the dill in the middle layer and top layer of cucumbers. This would be at least two heads, sprigs, and leaves in a large jar.

Mix the water, vinegar, canning salt, and alum. (If wanting garlic, add it here.) Do not heat this mixture. Stir the mixture until the salt has dissolved. Pour mixture into prepared jars. Fill jar with liquid to within one inch of top of jar. Make sure all the cucumbers are covered with liquid.

Cover jar with flat canning lid and screw lid. Set in sun for three days.

After three days, put the jars in the refrigerator. They must always be chilled to remain crisp. These pickles will be ready to eat after two weeks. I still have last year’s pickles in my refrigerator; and they are still good.