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Spicy Sweet Pickles

Spicy Sweet Pickles

A simple way to make delicious, homemade spicy sweet pickle chips or chunks. this recipe yields 6 pints. I used a combination of pint and 8 ounce jars so I would have two sizes to choose from when opening a jar for my own use or bringing one as a gift.
Course Side Dish, snacks
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds cucumbers preferably Kirby (small)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons alum
  • 2 quarts apple cider vinegar (1/2 gallon)
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 cups sugar

Instructions

  1. Day One - Soak the cucumbers in ice cold water for 30 minutes. Drain the water, trim off the ends of cucumbers, and cut them into 1/4-inch slices or chunks. (For simplicity, I'll refer to them as slices. A mandoline works well for slicing - just be careful toward the end of the cucumber not to cut your hand or fingers.) Pack the slices into 1 or 2 food safe containers. Cover the slices with boiling water, cover the container(s) and let the cucumbers sit overnight.
  2. Day Two - Drain the water and rinse the jar(s). Add salt to 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) of boiling water. Pour the salt water over the cucumber slices, cover the cucumbers again, and let them sit overnight.
  3. Day Three - Drain the salt water and rinse the jar(s) again. Add the alum to 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) of boiling water. Pour the alum/water over the cucumber slices, cover the cucumbers again, and let them sit overnight.
  4. Day Four - Drain the alum water and rinse the jar(s) again. Bring the 2 quarts (half gallon) of apple cider vinegar to a boil. Put the pickling spices into a cheesecloth bundle tied at both ends or a tea ball. Add the spices to the boiled cider vinegar, pour the mixture over the cucumber slices, cover them again, and let the slices sit that way for three days.
  5. Days Five and Six - No work, all play.
  6. Day Seven - Pour the cider vinegar off, reserving 2 cups of the mixture and disposing of the pickling spices. Put the cucumber slices (now officially pickled) into a giant stainless, pottery, or glass bowl. Pour the sugar over the pickles, gently stir the sugar throughout the slices, and let the mixture stand for about one hour.
  7. Pack the slices into sterilized jars, then scrape or spoon out the sugar syrup that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl, dividing it equally among the jars.
  8. Cap the jars. Turn the jars over and over a few times in the next three to four days, which disperses and dissolves any sugar that might have fallen to the bottom of the jars.

Recipe Notes

To sterilize the jars, Cathy advises either immersing the jars in boiling water (totally covering the jars) for 10 minutes or putting them through the hot dishwasher cycle. The rings that hold the jar lids in place should also be boiled or put through the dishwasher. (Another wonderful canning expert, Domenica Marchetti, advises boiling the rings in a small covered pot for 10 minutes shortly before using them.) The lids have a plastic seal that will not withstand the boiling water, so they should be washed and put into the pot of hot water containing the rings just before sealing the jars.
In her recipe (link at the beginning of this version), Cathy advises that you need only save 1 cup of the vinegar for adding to the jars. Actually she advised 2 cups for 10 pounds, but I halved the recipe. I found that wasn't enough; it is better to reserve more and throw out whatever remains after filling the jars, rather than reserving less and wishing that you had more to cover the slices once they are in the jars ready to be sealed.