I’ve never been one to make my own jams, jellies, and preserves, but when a coworker brought in her homemade sweet pickles and the taste evoked nostalgia, I thought it was about time I learned about canning and preserving.
Photo by W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
I admit to taking the easy route and opting for Sweet Refrigerator Pickles—it was my first time, after all. This recipe could not be simpler. I tossed together the sliced cukes, onions, and peppers and sprinkled with pickling salt. As I waited the required hour for the salt to work its magic, I thought about my grandfather’s garden. He worked an acre of land (in the city!) and delighted us with such gems as raspberries, blueberries, grapes, Swiss chard, sweet corn, and parsnips, among many others. As the summer waned, he canned tomatoes, piccalilli, and my favorite, bread-and-butter pickles. Now that he’s gone, I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate his efforts more.
After an hour had passed, all that was left to do was to combine the cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds. I drained the vegetables and added the vinegar mixture. After letting the pickles sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours, I had my first taste . . . and they are better than I thought they would be! Sweet, with a little zip from the hot peppers. Still not as good as my grandfather’s pickles, but I’ll work on it!
Below is the recipe for these sweet pickles. Prefer sour to sweet? Watch Catherine, the Old Farmer’s Almanac new media editor, make Refrigerator Dill Pickles.
Recipe for Sweet Refrigerator Pickles
(p. 154 of The Garden-Fresh Cookbook)
8 cups sliced cucumbers ( 6 to 8 medium cucumbers)
2 large onions, sliced
2 large red peppers, sliced
3 hot peppers, sliced
1 tablespoon pickling salt
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the cucumber slices, onions, and peppers. Sprinkle with the salt and set the bowl aside for 1 hour. Drain and discard the liquid. In a bowl or jar with a lid, combine the vinegar, sugar, and seeds and whisk or shake until sugar is dissolved. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers. Transfer the cucumbers to a glass or plastic-covered container for storage and refrigerate. These will keep up to 3 months. Makes about 4 quarts.
Sarah, our Senior Associate Editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 2003. If not outside with her husband and son enjoying a kayak trip down the Saco River or skiing in the White Mountains, you'll find her baking sweet treats in the kitchen.