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How to make homemade Spicy Dill Pickles

How to make dill pickles is a post that has been rolling around in my head for a very long time.   I have been unable to separate cooking and events in my life for as long as I remember. There was a summer, actually the summer of 2008, when I lost my fiancee in a motor cycle accident, and I began to can, if it stopped moving, I canned it.  Some people drink their sorrows, that summer, I tried to put my broken heart into jars.  During that summer I lived in Eau Claire, Michigan, I had the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of delightful fresh fruits and vegetables I canned from May through September.

Michael and I had bought a house out in the country. We had planted a monster garden, we had seven acres, and it was really hard to judge exactly how big our garden was. While growing up both of our parents had gardens, planting one yourself is different. I think we planted about 25 tomato plants, and a wide variety of other vegetables. In addition to what we planted there were all sorts of vegetable stands where we lived. Many times coming home from work, I would stop and pick up something fresh, and prepared it that night for dinner. Having lived in Houston, we didn’t really have seasons, but in Michigan we had seasons, and a whole host of fresh fruits and vegetables that I had not seen since growing up.

I canned spaghetti sauce, spaghetti sauce with meat, dill pickles, dill pickle relish, strawberry jam, blueberry preserves.  One day I when out picked peaches then spent the rest of the weekend canning them.  There was some irony there, I really don’t enjoy jams and jellies very much.  My favorite thing I canned was dill pickles.  These pickles were honestly some of the best dill pickles I had ever made.  These were wonderfully spicy.   I added crab boil to these pickles to give them extra flavor.

These dill pickles are ones that you actually ferment.  They take about three weeks to ferment, then it is time to can the pickles and get them ready for long term storage.  If you have never had the opportunity to try fermenting your own pickles, I highly recommend doing so.  You will have a flavor that is so dense, that you will want to ferment your own pickles again and again.

homemade spicy dill pickles

Spicy Dill Pickles

Yield: 6 quarts.

Spicy Dill Pickles

  • Author:
  • Recipe Type: CopyKat Recipes, Miscellanous
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 1
Spicy Dill Pickles

Spicy Dill Pickles are a unique way to make homemade dill pickles.


  • 2 to 3 bunches of fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup crab boil
  • 2 bay leaves crushed
  • 1 tablespoons whole black pepper corns
  • 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 10 pounds picking cucumbers (4 inches long with ends trimmed)
  • 1 1/2 cups pickling canning salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 16 cups water
  • 6 garlic cloves


Combine all of the dry spice ingredients in a small bowl. In a large clean crock or glass or stainless container, place half of the picking spice and one bunch of dill. Add cucumbers, leaving at least 4 inches of space between the cucumbers and the rim of the container.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine pickling salt, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and add salt stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

When the brine has cooled to room temperature pour picking liquid over cucumbers and add remaining picking spice, garlic, and remaining dill over the top. Place a large clean inverted plate on top of the cucumbers and weigh

down with a couple of quart jars filled with water and capped. Cover with a clean towel. Let stand in a cool place the temperature should be about 70 to 75 degrees, let stand for about three weeks. It will take about three weeks until the cucumbers are well flavored and the fermentation is completed. You will need to check the brine daily and remove any skum that may form. During fermentation bubbles will form.

After about three weeks it will be time to put up the pickles. Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Drain pickles reserving the brine. Strain brine through a sieve and pour brine into a large stainless steel pot and bring the brine to a boil. When a rolling boil has been achieved reduce heat, an let simmer for 5 minutes.

Pack pickles into the hot jars leaving 1/2 inch for head space. Pour hot brine into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary, by adding hot picking liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger tip tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

Recipe adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

These pickles go perfectly in my Olivier Salade - Russian Style Potato Salad

I had hoped that with each jar that I canned, it would somehow ease the pain of loosing someone that I loved.  Still whenever I think of canning I still think of Michael, and how I spent that summer canning pretty much everything that moved. Some people drown their sorrows in alcohol, but that year, I tried to can my way out of grief. I still have a few jars left of preserve in my cabinet.  Now that I have moved back to Texas, I continue to can, and prepare my own spaghetti sauce, pickles, and other goodies.

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  • Kathryn Barnes

    When you say crab boil can I use Old Bay Seasoning? I an intrigued by this recipe. I love the story and your web site. Thank you!

  • Spangler

    I came across your recipe and story recently because I wanted to can some spicy pickles. I was tickled when I saw that you fermented them. When I lived in S. Korea my wife’s grandmother did the samething except we walked down to the river and got big river rocks to weigh down the pickles… 😀

    • stephaniemanley

      You know these were some of the best pickles I ever made. I very much miss the summer that I spent in Michigan. The produce there was flat out amazing. If I could get super fresh cucumbers again I would make pickles the same way again.

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  • Sandra Rice

    I’m sorry about your fiance;(
    I have never jarred or canned anything, but I love to cook and I do have a garden. I just usually end up giving things away or creating new recipes to use my veggies in.
    I love Famous Dave’s pickes, basically it’s the juice. So I save it when all the pickes have been eaten out of the jar and then just cut up my cucumbers and throw them in the juice and it’s yummy..
    I would love to recreate that pickle juice so I can continue to “jar my cucumbers”! Is there anyone who has recreated that recipe and, if so, may I have it?

  • Anonymous

    To everyone, thanks for well wishes regarding Michael. I dedicated my book to him, and try to do things that would make him proud. These pickles would have received a very favorable remarks from him. His parents loved the pickles. I was told that drinking pickle juice was a Russian cure for a hangover. Thankfully I haven’t had to try that one out.

  • Kathy

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Fay

    Eau Claire… I worked up in Sister Lakes til last summer (just a few miles away from Eau Claire). Berrien County is a wonderful place in the summer for those of us that love fresh produce. I’m gonna go pick cherries soon :) Any ideas for those?

    • Stephanie

      Fay, somehow I missed the cherry season. I wished I had some ideas on that one. Living in Texas, those are a real treat. We don’t get many of them.

    • Terry

      Cherry jelly, some of the best I ever tasted. I live in Texas and had a cherry tree in my orchard once.Those and pears were the only ones you could count on not to get a ‘freeze’.

    • Anonymous

      You know, I didn’t get a chance to make anything with the cherries. I was only up there from March until November, and cherries wasn’t something I had the chance to try out. I do have a recipe for Cherry Bounce here online.

  • Gail

    I enjoyed your story & I intend to try your recipe. So sorry for your loss..hope your heart has healed some.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Stephanie

      I would love to say my heart has healed completely, and I have moved on. I think of him daily, and miss him. I don’t feel the need to can quite as intensely as I did 😉

  • CherylK

    I tried fermenting pickles once and they didn’t turn out at all…pretty sure it was something I did wrong, though! In any case, this looks so good and your instructions are so detailed that I think I’ll give it another go.

    I’m very sorry about Michael…what a terrible loss for you.

  • Sandra Holloway

    Your story is very touching. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Fran

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s not easy to put all of yourself out there like that.

    Now… I’m on the way to the market and am thinking about picking up the pickles — I have the rest of the ingredients in the house, but have to think about what I would do with all those pickles! :) They sure do sound good though.

  • A. Jenkins

    I know exactly how you feel. I lost my ex-husband in a motorcycle crash in Jan, 2009 (we were always very close) and I cooked, canned and froze stuff like a maniac that year. It was great therapy and I was told to start my own catering business. Still thinking about that, but like you, it helped w/ the grief. God bless you and hopfully each day will get a little easier. BTW, I absolutely love your website and visit it often! Keep up the good work. :-)

    • Stephanie

      I am so sorry for your loss. Well you made me chuckle. I thought I was the only one to can my way through grief.

  • Closet Chef

    Do these taste at all like Claussen’s Kosher dill’s (my favorite), or are they plain sour dills?

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think they taste like Claussen, the crab boil spice mixture gives it a very different flavor. They aren’t plain sour dills though 😉 Ted, do you have any of your recipes for pickles you would like to share?

  • Brad

    This sounds wonderful but can you tell me what “crab boil” is. A spice mixture?

    • Stephanie

      It is a spice mixture, here is the one from the spice house.–crab-boil-spice

      • Lgranrose

        Stephanie – I am in Minnesota – and I usually can pickles as well and they go like hot cakes! My brother in law got mad because he brought two of my jars to his in laws dinner and they ate all of them and he didn’t get one. However, I have been using the peppers (Thai, banana and jalapeno) from my garden and I use distilled water – because we like spicy. How do you think the distilled water will work for fermenting –