An Easy "Sweet Dill" Pickle Recipe
Grandpa's Pickles: A Holiday Tradition
A Family Recipe for Easy "Sweet Dills"
It is at great risk to my marriage and family relationships, that I am sharing my husband's recipe for "Grandpa's Pickles" that we gift every Christmas to neighbors, friends and (ALWAYS) family. We have turned it into our tradition every holiday season to make these pickles together.
Years ago I tried making bread and butter pickles from scratch using a water bath pot. It took all day and was really messy and hot so I vowed to never do that again. When my husband got it "in his head" that he wanted to make his mom's recipe for "Sweet Dills", I was not a happy homemaker.
Little did I know that the recipe was so easy and did not take long at all. It also did not involve a huge hot pot of boiling water and a lot of equipment that we did not have in the cupboard. He, also, did all the work--the first time!
His pickles were wonderful and the grandchildren just loved "Grandpa's pickles" and were always wanting to take some home.
The only extra equipment involved is having an empty shelf in your refrigerator for your jars of homemade "Sweet Dills" (very much like "bread and butter" pickles).
All pickle making images belong to Me! Mickie Gee! The Amazon product images are from Amazon.com.
This recipe has a specific brand name for pickles that Grandpa's mother says is the best. We tried other labels, but The Vlasic pickles do seem to be the very best choice. Watch for them on sale and stock up.
Notice that you should include the instructions to keep the pickles in the refrigerator and not in the pantry.
The grandkids named the pickles after their "Grandpa".
Recipe Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints.
This recipe is printable; look for the "printable version" link below the recipe's instructions.
Serves: 4 families get a 1 pint jar
- 3 cups sugar (Grandpa uses white refined sugar)
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 pinch (a little less than 1/8 tsp) mixted pickling spices (or to taste) brand of your choice
- 2 - 46 fluid oz. jars of whole Vlasic Spicy Dills
- (Grandpa's mother liked to use the "Spicy" Vlasic dills with minced garlic pieces visible in the jar.)
- Copied from the recipe card that Griff (Grandpa) got from his mother:
- Remove dills and garlic. Drain the juice [and discard].
- Cut [whole dills] in Chunks. [Put pickle chunks in jars. Four 1 pint jars or two 1 quart jars.]
- Bring [first three] above ingredients to boil and pour over dill pickles in the jars. [Put the lids on the jars.]
- Let stand all day or over night [on the counter at room temperature].
- Put in the refrigerator until crisp. [Usually 24 hours.]
- My (Mrs. Grandpa) additions to and explanations are in brackets. [....]
What is a "pinch"?
The amount of spice you can gather between your thumb and pointer finger.
Some say it is just less than 1/8 of a teaspoon.
Choosing the right jar for your homemade pickles:
Pint (16 ounce) jars make a nice gift giving size.
My husband prefers the regular mouth jar seen in the photo on the right. The funnel, that we already own, fits it perfectly. The wide mouth jar is wonderful for the "mixes in a jar", too.
Grandpa's Sweet Dill Pickles - On top of it all:
I designed the label to go on the lid of the wide mouth jar used for Grandpas Sweet Dill Pickles. I think it looks nice. This particular label was designed and ordered from Zazzle. It is shiny and probably a little thicker than the CafePress labels.
Grandpa's preferred pickle jar: - This size makes a perfect homemade gift.
My husband prefers the pint regular mouth canning jars because we have a funnel that fits.
You can use this sticker (the one used above) on the top of the jar:
Grandpa preferred the wide mouth jars for his pickles!
The label above will fit on the top of these wide mouth Ball jars. These wide mouthed jars are also easier to fill with the delicious sweet dills.
Zazzle and CafePress Pickle Labels side-by-side!
Gift Tags for giving the pickles to friends and family:
The first year we made the pickles, I did not check the ink in my printer and the reindeer turned out greenish. Since it was the Christmas season and we were in a rush, the effect was deemed OK. In the image to the right, the tag with the ribbon is what the tag should look like. I made sure I had enough ink to make the colors turn out correct! I am also glad that I have a round hole punch.
I also used these two-sided cards added to the gift jar of pickles:
These cards work very well as tags. If you go to the Microsoft templates or the Avery site, you just enter in the product number to find templates that will work. Yes, both companies realized early on that the business cards would be used as "gift tags", too.
Wide-mouth funnel for putting pickling juice in the jars:
If you do not have one of these funnels, you should seriously think about getting one. My husband likes it because it helps him put the pickles and juice in the jars with precision. Because of the high sugar content of the juice, it can be a sticky mess if you do not have a canning funnel to guide your packing of the jars with your homemade pickles. This funnel can also be used if you are making muffin and cookie mixes that go in jars for gift giving, too.
My funnel (pictured above with the pickle jars) is over 20 years old and is pretty beat up. Wish I had bought a stainless steel one way back then.
Making the spiced sugar and vinegar mixture:
See the cloves floating in the syrup?
Grandpa has used various types of pickling spices. We have a Penzey Spice shop in our city, so I bought the last batch of spices there. You can use the pickling spices that you find in your supermarket, too. I must tell you that the spices we had on our shelf when we made our first batch of pickles was really old--I cannot remember how long they had been there. The funny thing is, Grandpa liked that spice better than the new stuff!
Scroll down to find a link to a site that tells you how to make your own pickling spices.
Photos to show you how to make this delicious recipe for Grandpa's Sweet Dill Pickles:
Fill the jars with chopped Vlasic pickles. You can stuff them in leaving room for the pickle juice.
Grandpa likes to cut his whole dills about 2 inches long. I think you could cut the whole dills in half length-wise and then cut them into 1 or 2 inch pieces. It is OK for you to experiment.
NOTE: Grandpa reused the Vlasic pickle jars this go around.
Pour hot spiced pickling syrup in the jars over the chopped dills:
Canning Funnel helps you pour with accuracy!
The pickle juice is very sticky, so to keep the mess at a minimum, we use the canning funnel and a glass measuring cup.
Turn the filled pickle jars upside down until cooled:
Then store them in the fridge until gift giving time!
Grandpa likes to turn the jars upside down for a while. When they are cool, he turns them right side up. His explanation is that it makes the spices get to all the chunks. Note: We reused the Vlasic jar to store our own pickles.
A Pickle Jar with gift tag:
As you can see, the jar is empty. Cannot keep Grandpa's pickles in stock because they are so good! We tell the recipients that when the jar is empty, return it so we can fill it up again.
Does this recipe for "Sweet Dills" sound like Bread and Butter Pickles? I think they taste a lot like the ones I made from scratch many years ago. We always have some in the refrigerator. Grandpa likes to put them on a saltine cracker that is spread with peanut butter. That combination really tastes great, honest.
I often take the pickles to a friend's home when invited over for dinner. A nice change from wine, don't you think?
© 2012 Mickie Gee