Dill Sun Pickles

Homemade pickles were something I looked forward to each summer while growing up. My mom would take fresh cucumbers right out of the garden and make the most wonderful tasting pickles – better than anything found in stores.

My mother has had this recipe for dill pickles for ages, and I have to say, that while they aren’t true fermented pickles, they’re still my favorite.

Eating them brings back great memories of my sisters and I digging into the huge one gallon jar she used to make them in. They never lasted long, not with my 3 sisters and I (yes I have 4 sisters, but one of them is weird and didn’t inherit the love of pickles gene) who loved them so very much.

This recipe is easy, using just a few simple ingredients, and the wait time is short. This recipe is perfect for you if you’re looking for a substitute for regular store-bought pickles, but not quite ready to dip your toes into fermentation. Or maybe you’ve tried the fermentation method and your family isn’t quite ready for them. These pickles can be the start to winning htem over from processed foods!
Dill Sun Pickles {recipe}
Recipe type: Food Preservation

  • 6½ cups water
  • 3¼ cups white vinegar
  • ⅔ cup canning salt
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic (you can add more if you really like garlic)
  • ⅛ tsp. alum (I’ve been leaving this out with no ill effects)
  • about 10 medium pickling cucumbers
  • fresh dill, about 8-10 heads

  1. Either slice or spear each cucumber.
  2. Chop garlic into somewhat smallish pieces.
  3. Pour water, vinegar, salt, and alum into a large mixing bowl or one gallon jar. Stir to dissolve salt.
  4. Place a head of dill into a one quart jar along with half a chopped garlic clove. Add pickles until half full.
  5. Repeat layering and pour water mixture over cucumbers and place lid on jar.
  6. Set out in the sun for 2-3 days, chill and enjoy!

Now for some major tips to make these pickles last for about 6 months: If your cucumbers were picked the day you make them, just wash and slice. If you don’t know when they were picked or were picked previously, soak for about an hour in ice water to re-crisp them. Otherwise they may go soggy to soon. Use a double lid with ring and rubber seal. (canning lids) This helps with the fermentation by letting air out but not in. Do not open the lid to taste test during the 2-3 days period. Only open and enjoy when you’ll be eating the entire jar within a couple weeks. The sun part is most likely not necessary, since I have seen other recipes that are extremely similar and they just keep them inside. Although I do love the faded effect these pickles get from the sun, so mine always sit outside! *Nourishing Notes: Use organic vinegar as non-organic may be from GMO corn. Use celtic sea salt as a healthier option to refined white salt.

pickles (1)


Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
Donielle is an author, amateur herbalist, lover of real food, and an advocate for natural health. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health, so much so that she is currently taking courses to become a master herbalist. Her personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and she began this blog in order to share all of the information she found helpful in her journey to healing.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. These sound great! Homemade pickles are SO much better than storebought! I'm saving this one to try

  2. I think the "faded" look may come from the vinegar destroying the clorophyll. My indoor pickles also lose their bright green color and have a more olive green appearance. Perhaps sun pickles look even more different than that, but there's my two cents. I do heartily agree that homemade pickles are the best!

  3. I’m trying to research pickling for next season and came across your recipe. It looks good but aren’t you concerned about the use of alum? While this food additive is approved by the FDA it has been shown to be toxic in doses as small as an ounce.

    • @Lauren, Lauren, I have yet to try this recipe w/o alum, but this is one of my ‘better than store bought’ recipes. It hasn’t been heated and doesn’t contain dyes. And an ounce of alum is a lot!! I have a small 1.9 ounce jar of it and I’ve used it through 4 pickling seasons, making about 2 dozen quarts per year and have yet to even make a dent in the jar. I just looked and it seems I haven’t even used an 1/8 of the jar yet. And yes, I am always concerned about the use of ‘preservative’ type ingredients in any of my food! Sometimes though it’s all about progress, not perfection. And while one day I may get to food ‘perfection’, right now I’m still in progress mode!

      Personally though, next summer I would like to try naturally fermenting my pickles!

      • I recently tried refrigerator pickles. When looking for a recipe I had read aj article about alum not being needed for low or no heat processed pickles. The alum was used to keep pickles crisp when using higher heat and longer processing. I am no expert so not sure that my recollection makes sensense, but might be worth a Google ;)

  4. I just tried this recipe and wanted to let you know it works GREAT withOUT the alum. I just left it out because I didn’t have it and didn’t feel like a trip to the store. They’ve plenty crunchy. Excellent recipe!

  5. Just to double check – Are these refrigerator pickles that you are not actually “canning” or “sealing” these jars and it is safe to leave them out in the sun for a few days. I am looking for recipes that I don’t have to seal. Thank you – the recipe looks great.

    • @MomOfFour, No – these are not sealed or ‘canned’. Leaving them out for 3 days allows the pickles to ferment and as long as you don’t open the jar, they will stay fresh in the fridge for months. As soon as they are opened, they last a week or two.

      also- you don’t really have to put them in the sun, leaving them on the counter works just as good. I like them sun bleached though and it seems to make the skins softer!

  6. I made these pickles last year.(without alum) I stored them in my basement on shelves and we just finished the last jar last week, Not only did they last an entire year, some jars were in my fridge for over a month (after they were opened) before the were all eaten, They lasted, no spoilage, no food poisingin. My great grandma said this is how they were done and kept for centuries before modern conveniences. She was right.

  7. These were way to salty but smelled good. Can I reduce the salt?

    • @Net, You can try – but they may not preserve as long since the salt aids in keeping them longer. If you’re going to consume them within a few weeks, it shouldn’t be a problem though as long as you keep them cold after the first few days.

  8. How many jars does this make?

    • donielle says:

      @Sarah, 3-5 quarts I think, but it all depends on how you cut the cucumbers. Sliced, you’ll fill the jar a bit more and use less of the liquid. Spears seem to need more liquid per jar.

  9. After years of my 2 younger brothers making crock dill pickles, this believe it or not is my FIRST attempt at making pickles! I loved making them and can’t wait to make more! I am going to add though a jalapeno pepper to this next batch and see how they come out. Anybody ever do this? Somebody else said chiles too. Did any body elses garlic turn blue though? I freaked out and about cried when I saw that! Went right to Web and looked it up and found out it’s not harmful. Whew, I was so happy to read this. So today after making them about 330pm Sunday I brought them in the house Tuesday night, feared about storms coming thru OH damaging my hard work! This morning I ate one, I opened the sliced jar and ate one and it was fantastic!! They came out really great! So glad I went and did this. Easy peasy!

  10. Diana Garcia says:

    Just wondering. does the dill have to be fresh or can I use dried? Dont want to go to the store. lol! And can use reg salt or does it have to be canning salt? Thanks! Dying to trythis since I just got some canning jars!

    • @Diana Garcia, I’ve never used dried dill, but i do think fresh will definitely make a better product, as will canning salt vs regular salt. I’ve used coarse sea salt with decent results, but canning salt does make it look more appealing since there are no impurities in it.

  11. Hi there!
    Just thought I would post that an alternative to Alum in pickles (for crisping them) is to use 1 fresh grape leaf per quart.
    This works great!

  12. These were the most fantastic pickles i’ve had! A great change from the regular Dill Pickles <3 Thanks for sharing!
    PS ~ My CSA members also loved them (i sent along a Pint of them to each ;))

  13. Just did this yesterday and yielded 18 wide mouth pints; 9 spears and 9 sliced. I did one dill head per jar and 1-2 cloves of garlic. I also chopped up a total of 5 jalapeños and rationed them throughout. I use kosher salt for everything and it works great. I cut them up into the juices and let them sit awhile before jarring and they already tasted wonderful! I’m also working on some freezer bread and butter pickles. It’s amazing what a $5 box of cucumbers will get you!

  14. I just found this recipe and would like to try it, but first a fast question.. It says you can store them for 6 months? Without a water bath? Confused!

  15. These are cold storage pickles, not canned pickles. So after sitting for a couple days you’ll need to keep them in the fridge or cold cellar.

  16. Does this recipe work with whole cucumbers, not slicing or spearing? Also I tried “Babbles” fermented pickle recipe and way to salty but also did not contain vinegar. Excited to try.

    • @michelle, I’m sure you could try them whole, but I’d at least slice them in half the long way. You’ll fit more into one jar and they’ll absorb more of the flavor.
      I’ve done the fermented pickles too and they were to salty for my crew as well.:-)

  17. Linda Benson says:

    My husband has made four bathes of these dill sun pickles and they are sooooo good and crunchy. He sliced the cucumbers thick and he tried the spears, but I prefer the sliced, we are very impressed on how crunchy they are.

  18. This recipe is not safe. It does not state the correct amount of acidity needed for the vinegar (which is 5%) but also, this is not the proper way to ferment pickles. In essence you are canning bacteria which can be harmful.

    If you are wanting research-based recipes, then try some recipes listed on the National Center for Home Food Preservation

    • @Erica, Thank you for your concern. I will be leaving this comment on the blog because I can always appreciate another person’s opinion, but I will be editing it so that it takes the tone of teaching and common respect – something I make sure all comments on this blog abide by.

      As to proper fermentation, do understand that this is a refrigerator pickle recipe – not a shelf stable / long term storage/ canned recipe. And one that I have eaten or made for over 20 years with no ill affects. I take food safety seriously, though most food safety experts would also frown on my liberal use of raw egg yolks. :-)

      And if I were to make pickles another way it would be through lacto-fermentation, were I would be specifically breeding good bacteria to preserve them for cold storage.

  19. I have taken a food safety class and I agree with the previous persons response (Erica).

    • @Eliza, Thank you for your concern. I will be leaving this comment on the blog because I can always appreciate another person’s opinion, but I will be editing it so that it takes the tone of teaching and common respect – something I make sure all comments on this blog abide by.

      As to proper fermentation, do understand that this is a refrigerator pickle recipe – not a shelf stable / long term storage/ canned recipe. And one that I have eaten or made for over 20 years with no ill affects. I take food safety seriously, though most food safety experts would also frown on my liberal use of raw egg yolks. :-)

      And if I were to make pickles another way it would be through lacto-fermentation, were I would be specifically breeding good bacteria to preserve them for cold storage.

  20. Donielle, just to make you aware, currently there are no research-based recommendations for pickles to remain in the refrigerator for weeks. The reason being that Listeria grows at cooler temperatures, and with the open-kettle method that you are recommending on your site you are recommending potentially dangerous foods to pregnant mothers. I believe you are aware, but pregnant mothers are an at-risk population in regards to food safety concerns. I highly recommend looking at recipes that are research-based and are guaranteed safe, to be posting on your blog. Please take this information as an educational and respectful tone because currently there are several safety concerns with the recipe listed above.

    • @Erica, I do understand where you are coming from, but I have also found that more traditionally prepared foods are healthier for us than our modern processed foods. So much of what I prepare in my home would not be recommended by the FDA or USDA – two agencies that I feel have done more damage to our food supply than they’d like to notice.

      Your thoughts and ideas have made me add information about food safety into my disclosure. Especially for those who just happen to stumble across my site because of a recipe and don’t necessarily adhere to the same dietary guidelines of the traditional food movement like I do.

  21. can I can these after making them? I have made a batch in a big container and now I am wondering if I can “can” them

  22. Why use vinegar at all? It destroys the probiotics all together. Has anyone tried without vinegar?

    • Yes, it does. As I mentioned in the post these are not traditionally fermented pickles (as I don’t yet have a good consistent recipe that’d I’d like to share). But they are my favorite because they remind me of my childhood. These can be done without vinegar, but the salt content is probably different.

      http://www.GNOWFGLINS.com is a great resource for properly fermented foods!

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