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The Easiest Pickles Ever

July 16, 2012

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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.

Get more tips in our Pickling and Canning Library.

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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.


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Hello everyone, I hope I can

By Susan Hildebrandt

Hello everyone, I hope I can get what I am looking for. One thing I consider to be one of my fondest memories with my Granny was helping her can. We canned just about anything under the sun from jellies to veggies. With that, the love of canning is within me. I still can till the cows come home. I can things I do even like to eat because she taught the craft and I just love to do it. Granny passed away a couple of years ago. And with her we believe she took her famous (at least in our family) Sweet Garlic Pickles recipe. Although Granny and I never canned these, they were a favorite from my childhood. I cant even give any clue how they are canned let alone the ingredients. I can tell you, they were thinly (I'm talking paper thin). She did have whole clove in it as well. The name is what my mother and aunts say it was, so I have to take their word for it even though I don't remember seeing garlic in them nor did they taste like they had even a hint or garlic. But they WERE sweet. I do not know if they was just something handed down in the family or if it is an old southern recipe. If anyone can enlighten me, many thanks to you.

That sounds great--especially

By georgewilson

That sounds great--especially the childhood memory. I have a recipe that might be similar. You just mix a few ingredients and boil: 2 c. vinegar, 2 c. water, 3 c. sugar, and 2 tbsp. salt. Then pour it over 6 qts. fresh sliced pickles packed firmly in jar. Then add 12 cloves peeled garlic and a head of dill to each quarter. Twist on the lid and can it!

I've added alum to mine,it

By Phil 7504

I've added alum to mine,it preserves that crisp snap and helps perserve them.Not much,1/2 tsp to a 3 qt. batch

how soon can you eat them?

By jennie bader

how soon can you eat them?

The flavor gets better the

By Almanac Staff

The flavor gets better the longer you wait, but if you are really anxious, give them a try after 24 hours.

Dill also, gives a special

By Beetlebug

Dill also, gives a special flavor and is an herb which was very common in the old days. Especially good with pickles with cucumbers.

Can these pickles be packed

By Roni Murray

Can these pickles be packed in jars and sealed in a hot water bath? My small refrigerator would never hold all this! Thanks, they look delicious. I agree about the turmeric, by the way!

Roni, this recipe is designed

By Almanac Staff

Roni, this recipe is designed specifically for the refrigerator. We would not recommend processing the pickles. Try giving the following sweet pickle recipe a try: http://www.almanac.com/blog/cooking-blog/then-out-pickle

Can anyone please suggest

By Skysoldier`73d

Can anyone please suggest what type of hot peppers were probably used or preferred in the recipe? Thanks in advance

Jalapeno peppers were used in

By Almanac Staff

Jalapeno peppers were used in the recipe. Hope you enjoy the pickles!

Hello. These will keep up to

By Bch Mt Girl

Hello. These will keep up to 3 months in the refrigerator???? When you say, "makes about 4 quarters, do you mean 4 quarts??? As I'm sure you can tell, I'm new at this but can't wait to try these.

Yes, they will keep for up to

By Almanac Staff

Yes, they will keep for up to 3 months in the refrigerator. Thanks for pointing out the typo. That should be 4 quarts.
Good luck!

Thanks for the suggestion. I

By Sarah Perreault

Thanks for the suggestion. I will give it a try!

Try adding about a teaspoon

By Francis Savoie

Try adding about a teaspoon or so of turmeric to your mixture, that is one of the ingredients the old folks used to use with celery and mustard seed Might be why you have not quite hit papa's recipe.

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