In, then out, of a pickle

Janice Stillman

When an Almanac colleague and gardener greeted me one day with,”Good morning! I left a bag of pickling cucumbers in your office!”, my eyebrows jumped, my jaw dropped, and “Oh, wow—thanks!” came out of my mouth.

At the same time, “Oh no, oh no, oh no” was crawling across the mental marquee on the interior side of my forehead. I had never made pickles. I seldom even eat pickles. Pickles involve boiling pots, hot glass, steam, stink, and seals that won’t stick, not to mention untold lost hours.

However, I sucked it up, decided not to waste the gift, and put pickles on Saturday's to-do list.

Fast forward: I now LOVE pickles! I love everything about pickles: making them, eating them, sharing them!

This recipe, for Sweet Pickle Chips, adapted from “Vegetables,” a cookbook produced by the Culinary Institute of America, results in a bread-and-butter pickle that is quick, easy, delicious, and requires no processing. The CIA advises that these pickles will last up to a month under refrigeration. I can't vouch for that; mine were gone within days.

6 to 8 pickling cucumbers, washed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon mustard seed
1 ½ to 2 cups sugar (to your taste), divided
4 cups water
1 ¼ cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seed
½ tablespoon crushed (not ground) allspice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Put the sliced cucumbers, onions, cider vinegar, salt, mustard seed, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and water into a large pot. pickling cucumbers and onions cooking

Turn the heat on high, bring the liquid to a simmer (not a hard, rolling boil), and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes—and not a moment longer. Drain and discard the liquid. Return the remaining ingredients to the large pot and set aside.
Put the remaining ingredients into a separate pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove this pan from the heat, pour the mixture over the cucumber and onion mixture, and stir once or twice.

When the ingredients are sufficiently cool, distribute them into jars, and refrigerate.

Makes 3 to 4 pints.

Got a good pickle recipe? Send it my way—even better, send pickling cukes! (Seriously, but postage paid, please.)


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After the first boil, pack

After the first boil, pack the cucumber and onion slices into hot jars, fill the jars with the hot pickling liquid and cap at once. After the caps pop, store them on the shelf. Refridgerate only after opening. They keep firm and crisp for months.

i made a brine for my pickles

i made a brine for my pickles and it is pretty strong. can i add water to it before i can them?

All of the sources we

All of the sources we consulted advise not adding water to a pickle brine, that you should never dilute vinegar unless a recipe calls for it. The pickles will be soft and poorly flavored.