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Sweet Crisp Cucumber Pickles

June 24, 2013

Sweet Crisp Cucumber Pickles

It’s Summer…officially this week! Summertime makes me think of visits with my grandmother in Missouri. It was where our family vacations inevitably took us! My father met my mother while stationed at the Marine Base in south GA. They married there and he ended up staying. So Summer vacations were the only time of the year
he was able to visit his very large family in Missouri. And growing up it was the highlight of my year…even eclipsing Christmas! Yes, it did!

I don’t know if my grandmother had any idea what an influence she had on me growing up. I wanted to grow up and live on a farm, raise chickens, cook fresh eggs every morning, bake fresh bread for my family and can and pickle and preserve all sorts of goodies from my garden.

Well, it didn’t work out for me to live on a farm, but I have been very blessed throughout my adult life to live in small rural communities surrounded by people who were living my dream and I vicariously lived it, too!

It was in one such community that I met Sylvia, whose husband was the county extension agent and they had a garden from heaven!  She introduced me to pickling when I was a mere child, 22 years old, and I have pickled ever since…

My babies grew up on my sweet pickles. They’ve been eating them since they were in their high chairs. It is a food group,  right?  I have to say, country living is the best place to get children to eat good food…because they are surrounded by it!    Even tho my children are grown and  married, if they get wind that I’m cooking Sweet pickles…they will all show up one by one for their jar. In fact, my two children who live in town, have already stopped by for theirs and I just made them this morning! And my older son got his today too even tho he lives over an hour away….wow…

So Summer is finally here and that means it’s time to make Sweet Crisp Pickles. You cannot buy sweet pickles in the grocery store. At least not around here. You can buy bread and butter pickles….not to be confuse with sweet pickles..they aren’t the same.  You can buy sweet salad cubes…but no sweet pickles. Not like these.

If you’ve never made pickles before, these instructions should make it easy peasy. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I have made them for decades now, so I will give you tips along the way to make it simplier….

Gather Cucumbers

Begin by gathering your cucumbers. You want cucumbers to be about the size of two of your fingers together, or smaller. If they are too big you will empty a jar over night! You’ll need 7 lbs.  of cucumbers. I have found that if I fill my large mixing bowl, fully rounded that equals about 7lbs. It helps to have scales. Remember to minus the weight of the bowl.

Wash, Slice, Soak in Lime

The first step is to wash and slice your cucumbers and place them into a large pot or tub. Slice them about 1/8 inch thick. If they are too thin they will break, so keep that in mind. Better too thick than too thin.  Once you have prepared your cucumbers, the need to soak 24 hours in Lime. Buy pickling Lime. It’s in the canning section of the supermarket. Sprinkle lime over cucumbers. Pour 2 gallons of water over and stir gently to dissolve lime.  Cover them with a dish towel and set them aside until tomorrow…See that wasn’t hard… Now you can go enjoy the day.

lime cucumbers


Rinse Well

The next day: The lime has caused them to “crisp,”  so….Very Gently….Rinse them well. I normally run them thru 4 rinses, transferring them from one clean pan of water to another back and forth making sure to gently remove all lime residue.

Soak in Ice Water

Cover them with ice water for about 4 hours. Add more ice along,  if the kitchen is hot.

cucumbers on ice


Make Brine, Soak

Drain the cucumbers and place back in large pot. Make brine:  Mix sugar, vinegar and spices and allow to sit over night, again.

cucumbers in brine


Getting Ready to Cook

Gather utensils: You will need~ washed and  tempered canning jars, a large telfon or wooden spoon, a large funnel, bands and lids. NOTE! you may reuse bands BUT YOU MUST USE BRAND NEW LIDS! ALWAYS! NO EXCEPTIONS! a table knife, clean damp dish cloth, large bowl, and tongs..I think that’s it. Make life easy on your self and make sure you have gathered all of this before you being cooking the pickles.


Wash all canning jars, being careful to check all rims for cracks, chips or blemishes that might prevent a tight seal. Don’t use jar that have imperfections on rim. Boil some water and pour about 1/2 cup into each jar to sterilize.  Leave the hot water in to keep the jars tempered…that is warm, so it does not break the jar when you add the hot brine. (You will empty this water into the bowl before you add the cucumbers.) Bring the lids to a boil in a shallow pan of water. Turn off and leave them on the stove in hot water.



Cooking Pickles

Bring Cucumbers in brine to a boil and cook for 30 minutes.


Packing Pickles

Pour hot water out of jar into bowl (or sink). Very carefully pack HOT pickles into jar using a teflon or wooden spoon, being careful not to break pickles….ease them into the jar.

cucumberd packed

I gently shake the jar to arrange them, running a knife to help move them around and press them in. You don’t want to pack them too tightly, just full.

cucumber pouringbrine


Adding Brine

Next…VERY carefully, I dip a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup into the HOT brine and pour , using funnel, filling the jar with brine. Use a knife to run along the sides to be sure there are no air pockets.  Please be careful!

cucumber lidtop



NEXT! Before you place the lid on the jar, wipe the rim of the jar with the clean damp cloth! You will want a good seal and this must be clean. Using tongs, place a flat lid on the clean rim and put the band on securely…and straight! At this point, I normally invert the jar, UPSIDE DOWN, on a clean dish towel until I finish the whole process and all the jars are filled


And there you have it…Sweet Crisp Cucumber Pickles

Edited to add: Although, for over 40 years I have never used a boiling water bath to seal my jars of sweet pickles and have never had a problem, the question was asked last night and I believe it is best to add this step at the end to ensure that they seal properly and to kill any micro-organisms that may cause spoilage. 

How to do a Boiling Water Bath: To process in a boiling water bath, bring canner half-filled with water to a boil. Load your canning rack with filled jars and gently lower rack into boiling water.

If you don’t have the rack that comes with your canner, simply place extra jar rings on the bottom to set your jars of pickles on. One for each jar.

Make sure the jars of pickles are still hot/warm when you add them to the boiling water. And use your tongs to lower individual jars!

Process (boil) pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool. 

Enjoy your hard work!


I doubt my grandmother knew how much I wanted to be like her. She canned enough vegetables for the whole family to last a whole year. She and my Grandfather had 7 children. 365 days they depended on her canning to feed the whole family….at least 4 quarts or more of vegetables a day. Not to mention the pickles and apple butter, strawberry preserves…I can’t hold a candle to my grandmother… I don’t even try. But when I make my pickles…I feel close to her, my kindred spirit.

Sweet Crisp Cucumber Pickles


  • 7lbs Cucumbers
  • 2 cups Pickling Lime
  • 2 quarts Vinegar. I have used white or apple cider
  • 4 lbs Sugar ( 5lb bag minus 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbls Celery Seed
  • 1 Tbls whole Cloves
  • 1 Tbls Pickling Spice


  1. Slice and soak cucumbers in lime with 2 gallons of water for 24 hours. Rinse well.
  2. Cover cucumbers with ice water for 4 hours, drain
  3. Make brine of vinegar, sugar and spices; pour over cucumbers and soak overnight
  4. Bring to boil and boil 30 minutes
  5. Pack in hot sterilized jars, seal.
  6. Makes 5-6 Quarts



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  • Mel

    I bought my cucumbers today. Do you give the jars a hot water bath? Do you pour liquid in the jars? I excited about this recipe because it looks exactly like the pickles that my grandmother used to make . I’m just really excited but I just need a little help.

    Thank you.


    July 1, 2015 at 11:30 pm Reply
    • admin

      Yes, I do give the jars a hot bath just before pickles are finished cooking…and keep hot water in them until ready to pack with cucumbers. Yes, after packing with cooked cucumbers, I add Hot brine and seal jars with lid and band. I think the pictures are in order and you can probably follow them…good luck. Nothing like homemade sweet pickles at my house… let me know how they turn out….

      July 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm Reply
  • Mel

    The sweet pickles turned our great! I had a few left over and no liquid so we put them in the “fridge.” They are crispy and sweet with lots of flavor. They taste like my grandmothers pickles. I can’t thank you enough. Do you have a crunch dill pickle recipe? If so, please share I am on my way to the farmers market for more cucumbers.

    July 9, 2015 at 11:39 am Reply
    • admin

      I have a dill pickle recipe that we like. I’ll find it for you….I’m so happy they turned our for you! It’s the BEST most favorite recipe to us….

      July 9, 2015 at 11:58 am Reply
  • Mel

    Were you able to find the recipe for crunchy dill pickles? I don’t want to waste any cucumbers, if I can help it. I will work on peach preserve until I hear from you. I have searched for a recipe for crunchy dill pickles but I have not found one that I trust.

    July 11, 2015 at 10:43 am Reply
    • admin

      Mel, I’m sorry. I’ve had a fever the past three days…..This is the only Dill Pickle recipe I use and we love it…it isn’t as ‘crisp’ as my sweet pickles but it is what a dill pickle ought to be ;).
      Wash and dry small whole cucumbers … 3-5 inch…I can’t say how many quarts…it’s just according to how many cucumbers you have to fill jars….you may want to cut them into wedges or make them whole. I make mine whole.

      For each quart jar pack in: 1 clove of garlic, 1 piece of dill weed or 1 tsp dill seed, 1/4 tsp alum, 1 pod of hot pepper (Or two if you’re feeling frisky) (the alum is what makes them crisp…)

      For the syrup: 3 quarts water, 1 quart vinegar, 1 cup salt
      Heat until dissolved.
      Pack cucumbers in jar with spices..(I use whole small cucumbers)
      Pour hot brine over cucumbers in jars and seal with NEW lids and bands.
      Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
      Remember to clean rims of jars before placing lid on them so you will have a tight, secure seal.
      I allow mine to ‘cure’ about 4-6 weeks before eating.

      Please forgive my delay…..going to the dr tomorrow….

      July 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm Reply
  • Mel

    I meant to ask why did we have to put the cucumbers in an ice water bath for 4 hours?

    July 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm Reply
  • Mel

    Do you have a bread and butter pickle recipe to share?

    September 13, 2015 at 1:46 pm Reply
  • Mel

    Have you ever made this recipe using pickle crisp instead of lime?

    September 25, 2015 at 8:27 am Reply
    • admin

      No, I haven’t. I’ve never heard of pickle crisp…I wonder if the ingredients may be the same thing….?

      October 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm Reply
      • Sheila Bolick

        I tried the pickle crisp stuff once and the pickles were mushy. Maybe I did something wrong?
        This recipe above is the only kind I make. They are my secret ingredient for chicken salad, potato salad, and egg salad.

        July 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm Reply
        • admin

          Hi Sheila, I haven’t used the pickling crisp…I use pickling lime which always makes them crisp. Did your recipe call for pickling lime? Maybe you could try again with the pickling lime and see if they turn out better…good luck and let me know!

          July 20, 2016 at 9:05 pm Reply
  • Angela

    First time making sweet pickles and I “stumbled” upon this recipe….thanks for sharing!!

    July 18, 2016 at 9:33 am Reply
    • admin

      Awesome….it’s the first recipe I used FORTY years ago! Boy, do I feel old? Hope your family enjoys them as much as mine!!!!

      July 19, 2016 at 10:14 pm Reply
  • Lori

    So my grandmother and mother and now I always make these pickles and the recipe is almost exactly the same. Today I went to get pickling lime and ran across pickling crisp. Google it! It allows for skipping the lime soak process. My question is, if skipping the lime soak due to using the new pickle crisp product would you begin with the ice water soak or just move to the brine soak and then cook off and seal in jars?

    July 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm Reply
    • admin

      Hi Lori, I would still do the ice water soak. I think it helps to remove the lime residue from the cucumbers. Look on the ingredient label and see if it is lime…just a thought. Let me know what you do and how it works!

      July 20, 2016 at 9:00 pm Reply
  • Sherry

    Why don’t your sweet pickles have to be processed in a bwb ?

    August 23, 2016 at 9:15 pm Reply
    • admin

      Hi Sherry, You may process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes if you’d like. It certainly won’t hurt and will help to ensure that everything is sealed properly. I’ve made this recipe for over 40 years and never have. I seem to remember that the vinegar, which should be 5% acidic and the sugar act as preservatives and as long as the jars seal properly, they will be fine. If I’m ever in doubt about the safety of any particular jar, I don’t use it. Working fast to make sure everything stays hot is imperative to making sure the jars seal completely. If you find the brine is cooling off before the last jars are filled, you may want to heat the brine again. Again, if you’re more comfortable using a boiling water bath, it won’t hurt to do so. 🙂 Great question!

      August 23, 2016 at 11:29 pm Reply
  • Olivia

    Today I fixed 11 pints with 6 lbs. of pickles. I loved my Grandma’s pickles and always wanted to fix some like hers. These are so crisp and sweet. 64 yrs. old and began canning!

    September 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm Reply
    • admin

      Awesome Olivia! Never too old to start…and why not? I’m glad you like them…and my youngest granddaughter is named Olivia..she will be 1 on Saturday!

      September 13, 2016 at 7:19 pm Reply
  • Mel

    Back to your dill pickle recipe. Is it possible to use line and a 12 to 24 hour soak to make the deal pickles crispy? Why or why not? I found some late term pickles and I’d like to make them dill. Last question— how long do we hav to wait to try the sweet pickles?


    November 9, 2016 at 9:47 pm Reply
    • admin

      Hi Mel, sorry so late getting back to you…emergency health issues with my father…I have wondered myself about using lime to crisp dill pickles…I have never done it, but I really don’t know why it wouldn’t work….If you try, let me know…Oh, the sweet pickles are ready same day….:)

      November 27, 2016 at 8:59 pm Reply
      • Mel

        I just finished a batch of sweet pickles using this recipe and I realized that I never answered you.

        I used pickling lime with your dill pickle recipe and my family and co-workers love the crispy texture and the flavor.

        Thank you.

        October 16, 2017 at 8:02 pm Reply
        • admin

          Thanks, Mel…I may give this a try next Summer….

          January 3, 2018 at 1:27 pm Reply
  • Angeline W. Polasek

    An elderly lady gave me her recipe for Crisp Sweet Pickles back in 1970. I make them every year but lost my recipe last year after completing the pickles. I found your recipe and recognize it! Its the same. Only difference, tie up the four ingredients (celery seed,whole cloves, salt & pickling spice) in a clean white piece of cotton, tied with same cotton and cook in the vinegar. This gives you clean slices to eat! Thanks, Angie….. You’re a life saver. I picked a bushel of cucumbers today!

    April 28, 2017 at 11:38 pm Reply
    • admin

      Yes, I sometimes tie my up in cloth, too…but usually I don’t…I’m glad you found the recipe…I’ve had it over 40 years myself….it’s the best!love

      April 30, 2017 at 9:00 am Reply
  • Elaine Thompson

    I found your recipe 2 years ago and was delighted when I found my grandmother’s and it’s the same, my family loves these pickles, I have 2 batches in like water now, can’t till they are done……..

    May 20, 2017 at 4:35 pm Reply
    • admin

      Awesome! I’ve got to get cooking myself! Thanks for stopping by….

      June 19, 2017 at 9:50 am Reply
  • Connie

    Hi, Over the years I’ve used a 10-day sweet pickle recipe, but this year, I want to try a different recipe and found yours. I like it as it’s much simpler and doesn’t take 10 days. I have a half bushel cukes, so am estimating that is around 21 pounds. Do I triple this recipe or will it be better to separate them into 7 lb batches and follow your recipe?

    June 21, 2017 at 9:48 am Reply
    • admin

      I usually double the recipe. If you have a pot large enough, I’m sure it’d be fine. Thanks…

      June 21, 2017 at 10:34 pm Reply
      • Connie

        OK Thanks. Also, I started my process at 8 pm last night which after doing the 4 stage rinse has put me finishing the ice soak at midnight the tonight. I am starting the brine soak around 12:30 a.m. I plan to boil at 8 a.m. and finish the process. I hope that will be enough soak time in the brine?? I have to be at work at Noon tomorrow.

        June 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm Reply
        • admin

          It’ll be fine…the brine will be in the pickles until you open the jar…so they will be in a constant state of brining 🙂 And I have extended the brining and the lime on occasion if I needed to….

          June 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm Reply
  • Marge

    Make first batch hubby loves them, on second one now. I have done them like you did be often worried about safety. Came across an way to do it and preserve the crispy part. It’s low temperature pasteurized canning, Google it for info. Thanks for the great recipe.

    July 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm Reply
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