Originally, people pickled cucumbers as a way of keeping them through the winter. Before modern refrigeration, pickling was one of the few ways of preserving vegetables for winter use. Pickles are no longer a necessity but they have become a staple as a tasty treat – Americans eat 20 billion of them a year. The easiest cucumber pickle to make at home is the cold pack. Here’s how to make the USDA version of the cold pack pickle.

Things You'll Need

Prepare the cucumbers. Wash them, and cut off the blossom end, leaving a bit of stem. Dissolve 3/4 cup salt in 2 gal. of water. Soak the cucumbers in the salt water for 12 hours, and then drain.

Prepare the pickling solution. Mix the vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water in a pot. Tie the pickling spices in double layer of cheesecloth and add it to the solution. Heat to boiling.

Pack the jars. Fill the jars with the cucumbers, 1 tsp. of mustard seed, and 1 1/2 heads of dill per jar. Leave a 1/2-inch space at the top of each jar.

Pour the pickling solution over the cucumbers. Leave a 1/2-inch space at the top of each jar, and put the lids and rings on the jars.

Place the jars in the canner and fill it with water that is 120 to 140 degrees F. Add hot water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Heat the water to 180 to 185 degrees F, and keep it at that temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove the jars using the jar lifter. Let them cool without touching them for 24 hours on a cooling rack. After 24 hours, test the seal by pushing the center of the jar lid. If it doesn’t give, the jar is sealed. Store the jars for 4 to 5 weeks to develop the flavor. If the lid gives when you push it, the jar isn’t sealed and the cucumbers must be eaten soon or they will spoil.


  • If you’ve never canned before, read the “USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning” before starting. It can give you tips on procedures and safety.

  • Some people like garlic or onion in their pickles. If you want to add them or any other additional spices, add them with the dill while packing the jars. You may omit the mustard seed.