Kowalski’s Famous Garlic Dill Pickles

Appears in these categories: All Recipes, Pickling, Preserving, and Fermenting recipes


Submitted by: Bill Kowalski of Mahone Bay, NS

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The Story behind the Recipe

This is a traditional recipe that was used in my family, and many other families, for a very long time. It's the same recipe we used to make Kowalski's Pickles. Enjoy!

Prep time: 2-3 hours
Servings: 10 500-ml jars


  • 2 large pots
  • 9 cups water
  • 3 cups regular strength vinegar
  • 3/4 cup kosher or pickling salt
  • 10 500-ml canning jars
  • 2-3 fresh dill plants (enough for 1 sprig per jar)
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Several small pickling cucumbers per jar, ends removed, and sliced to fit

Instructions for Preparation

Wash your jars by hand or in the dishwasher (preferred). Ensure you have fresh lids and screw tops.

In one large pot, combine water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil. In another large pot, start boiling water for processing (enough to submerge jars so that they are covered in at least an inch of water.)

Slice cucumbers into halves or quarters. The more skin that remains on each piece, the crunchier it will be, so don't cut them too thin. You should also make sure to slice off the blossom end of the cuke, because if you don't, the pickles will quickly become mushy. If you aren't sure which end is the blossom end, just cut off both ends.

Pack each clean jar with 1 sprig of dill, 1 clove of garlic, and enough cukes to fill the jar tightly. You want to make sure you leave a small bit of space at the top of each jar (about 1/2" to 3/4"), as this is necessary to create a proper seal.

Once the pickling mix has come to a boil, carefully ladle or pour into each jar. Again, leave a small amount of space at the top of each jar. Do not fill completely to the brim.

Put lids and screw tops on jars and hand-tighten. Do not over-tighten, as any trapped air needs to be able to escape during processing.

Process each jar for 15 minutes. This means to immerse it in the pot of boiling water. Make sure the top of the jar is covered by at least one inch of boiling water. You may wish to use a canning rack and canning tongs.

After 15 minutes, remove the jar from the water and set to cool. As soon as you remove them, using a cloth or other hand protection, tighten the lids as much as you can by hand. The faster the jar cools, the crunchier the pickles will remain, so placing it in front of a fan or in a cool spot is ideal. It is not recommended to place these in the fridge or freezer. As the jars cool, they should make a "ping" sound that tells you the lid has sealed.

Once the jars are cool, examine each one to ensure they have all sealed. Do not store any jars that haven't sealed. This jar should be re-processed, first ensuring that the rim is clean and a proper seal exists, or else it should be discarded. You can also just store this jar in the fridge and keep them as refrigerator pickles.

Place jars in a dark, cool space such as a closet or pantry. They should sit at least two weeks before eating, but it's recommended to keep them longer. As my grandmother used to say, "Don't open them until the snow flies." If stored like this, these pickles will easily keep for two years and possibly longer.

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