July 25, 2012

Sweet Cucumber Pickles

We were away for a couple of days and when we got home I found our pickling cucumbers had gotten a little on the bloated side- I think they were just left on the vine too long. Luckily I've made pickles with these 'pregnant' cukes in the past and they are still super yummy, especially this sweet variety. You can use any cucumber but smaller varieties with fewer seeds work best. I like to add a dried hot pepper for some extra spice, fresh peppers also are great for some heat.

I talked a bit about canning here, but basically you need a big pot with enough water to submerge your jars. It isn't difficult but it does make the kitchen very warm and obviously is a little more challenging with a toddler around. I find canning pickles and jellies very relaxing, but then again I used to check out books on the topic in college and just daydream about cupboards lined with jars. Yeah, I was really wild in college!

Sweet Pickles: makes 4.5 pints / adapted from 'The Joy of Pickles' by Linda Ziedrich (a wonderful book!)
  • about 3lbs pickling cucumbers, ends discarded and cut into 3/16" slices
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c salt (suitable for pickling)
  • whole dried or fresh hot pepper such as jalapeno or cayenne, 1 per jar
  • 4 tsp mustard seeds
  • whole peppercorns (1/2 tsp per jar)
  • 2 c white wine vinegar (cider vinegar is also great)
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 c sugar
Layer the sliced cucumber and onions in a large bowl and toss with salt. Cover with ice cubes and let sit at room temperature for 1.5 to 4 hours.

Bring the giant canning pot of water to a boil.

Drain everything in a colander and return to the bowl. Toss with mustard seeds. Place 1/2 tsp of peppercorns in each jar (I like to use a combination of pints and half pints which make great hostess gifts).

Pack cucumber and onion mixture into the jars and add one hot pepper to each (wiggle it down the outside of the jar- it also looks pretty!).

Heat the vinegar, water, and sugar in a medium sauce pan to a boil, stirring occasionally. Ladle the hot liquid into each jar leaving 1/2" head space. Wipe the rims of each jar and cover with the two piece lids.

Process the jars for ten minutes in the boiling water.

Remove jars from hot water using jar lifting tongs. Set to cool and store for at least three weeks before eating.

I decided to make a few jars without the spicy pepper this time so that Little Smith could enjoy a few- he actually likes pickles. These are also wonderful using zucchini which is a bonus since we are overrun by those this year. I'm also excited to make dill spears- I never met a pickle that I didn't like!


  1. These look lovely and so professional!

  2. Looks delicious! This is such an inspiration to me to finally take the plunge and try pickling myself! I've wanted to for years but it just seems so daunting.. you make it look easy though!

  3. I have always wanted to try making my own pickles! These look so good!

  4. Look at you, girl! Good job. I should be doing the same. I really enjoyed some zucchini pickles that my husband's aunt shared recently. Your recipe looks yummy!

  5. I used to love pickles when I was a kid {I still do of course} but I've never made my own-- am so excited to give it a try!

  6. I'm so intimidated by canning... that and making bread. But these look sooooo good! Way to go!

    1. Those are both tasks that fall into the category of 'easier than they look'. I'm sure it will become harder to find the time with all the activities that need to be planned for older kids, but it's really not hard, just takes some practice before you feel confident. Making bread is so so fun, try it in all if that spare time you have ;)

  7. Oh yum! Sweet pickles are my favorite! But I don't can. I probably should, but I just haven't stepped into that territory...

  8. thanks, i have a lota cucumbers right at the moment! off to make pickles! :0)

  9. Oh, man....I could eat a LOT of pickles. Those look amazing.


  10. Oh, heck yes. You have just posted about my true love. I love pickles the way cowboys love horses. The way chemists love the period table of elements. The way Oprah loves to yell people's names in that funny voice she does. LOVE THEM.

    And "The Joy of Pickles"? So awesome. I am getting on half.com and finding a copy immediately.

    You have just provided a crazy ton of inspiration for me to start making my own pickles. High five to you.