Sweet pickles are popular in the summer, and this recipe will keep you coming back for more.
If you have a plethora of cucumbers from the garden you don’t want to go to waste, this is the perfect way to use them up.
My recipe has everything you are looking for, from the crunch, to the sweet pickle flavor we all know and love.
With just a handful of ingredients, you will be on your way to making your own old fashioned sweet pickles, just like grandma used to make.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I make mine, with the full recipe, and detailed step by step instructions.
Old Fashioned Sweet Pickles
This old fashioned sweet pickle recipe comes together quickly, and you’ll be able to start enjoying them in just a few days.
The best part is the simplicity of it. All you need are a few common ingredients that require very minimal steps to prepare, and before you know it, you’ll have your very own jars to savor.
They’re so delicious on sandwiches and burgers, on relish trays and charcuterie boards, or you can even eat them right out of the jar.
Related Post: How To Grow Cucumbers In Your Garden
What Are Sweet Pickles?
Sweet pickles are very similar to other types of pickles, but with added sugar to make them sweet.
They’re traditionally made with core ingredients including salt, sugar, vinegar, and a variety of spices.
It’s also common to add other types of veggies to the jar to compliment the flavor, such as onions or red bell peppers.
They’re commonly used as a garnish, on a variety of sandwiches, to compliment appetizer or charcuterie trays, or chopped up and added to salads.
Related Post: How To Make Mustard Pickles (Recipe)
What Do Sweet Pickles Taste Like?
Sweet pickles taste sweet and tangy with a crisp bite to them that is refreshing.
You can easily experiment with different herbs to change up the flavor a bit, or spice them up if you want a little extra kick.
Best Types Of Cucumbers To Use For Sweet Pickles
The best types of cucumbers to use for making sweet pickles are Boston and National Pickling, but English and Kirby can work well also.
These varieties are some of the best because of their smaller size, reduced seeds, and ability to absorb the brine flavors well.
Whatever type you choose to use, they should be firm, ripe, and as fresh as possible.
Related Post: When To Pick Cucumbers & How To Harvest Them
How To Make Sweet Pickles
I think you will be excited to see that most of the ingredients you need to make this sweet pickle recipe are already in your kitchen.
You have a lot of room to experiment with the ingredients, but I do recommend following my recipe the first time before making any adjustments.
Sweet Pickles Recipe Ingredients
- Cucumbers – You can use cucumbers from your garden, the farmers market, or the grocery store. Just make sure to get the firmest and freshest ones you can for the best texture. For this recipe, I cut them into ¼ inch slices, but you could cut them into spears instead, if you prefer.
- White onion – This adds a complimentary sweet and tangy flavor to the recipe. You could experiment with a different variety of onion, or if you aren’t a fan of them, you can omit them.
- Sweet red bell pepper – As another complimentary addition to your pickles, these help add a sweet flavor to the brine, and an extra crunch to the texture, as well as a nice complementary color. In a pinch you could omit this.
- Pickling salt – We use this to intensify the flavor of the brine and also to pickle the cucumbers so they are crunchy. I used regular table salt, but you could use kosher instead.
- Sugar – This is what provides the bulk of the sweetness to the brine, and also balances out the tanginess of the vinegar. If you would like them even sweeter, you can experiment with adding more.
- White vinegar – This helps to preserve the color, texture, and flavor of the cucumbers, and gives the brine that yummy tangy flavor. In a pinch, you can substitute half or all of the white vinegar for apple cider vinegar, which will make the brine less tart, and add a slightly fruity undertone.
- Mustard seed – Adds a sharp, almost zingy flavor that is common across all varieties of pickles.
- Celery seed – Creates an earthy and savory flavor to your pickles. In a pinch you could skip this ingredient.
- Turmeric – This also adds an earthy flavor, and it gives the brine that classic yellowish tone.
- Ground cloves – Adds a subtle sweetness and warmness to your pickles, and in this recipe you don’t want to omit it.
- Cinnamon – This also offers a distinctive warm and sweet flavor. If you don’t have powdered you could use one cinnamon stick in each jar – just remove it after a few hours.
- Red pepper flakes – If you want to add a little extra hot spice, then include this in your brine. Otherwise you can skip it, as it’s an optional ingredient.
Tools & Equipment Needed
You don’t need any special equipment to make sweet pickles, just a few common kitchen tools to get the job done. This is a quick recipe, so it’s best to gather everything ahead of time.
- Wide mouth pint canning jars
- New wide mouth jar lids
- Cooking pot
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Large mixing bowl
- Large mixing spoon
- Wide mouth funnel
- Large ladle
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Dissolvable labels
- OR Permanent marker
Tips For Making Old Fashioned Sweet Pickles
This sweet pickles recipe is very forgiving and hard to mess up, as long as you follow the instructions below.
It is important to let them marinate in the brine for 2-3 days in the refrigerator before enjoying them, for the best flavor.
This is such a great beginner recipe that’s flexible and easy to experiment with, so get creative with it.
If you don’t like red bell peppers or onions, omit them. If you want your pickles even sweeter, add a touch more sugar.
Then play around with the spices and herbs and try different combinations, or sprinkle in some red pepper flakes to spice them up a little.
Canning Sweet Pickles (Optional)
If you want to keep your sweet pickles for longer, you could try canning them and an optional last step.
Since the vinegar in the brine is acidic, all you need is a water bath canner to safely process them.
Add the hot jars into the boiling water canner, then process them for 10 minutes to seal the lids, making the necessary adjustments for altitude if needed.
Related Post: How To Freeze Cucumbers The Right Way
Using & Storing Sweet Pickles
If you don’t plan to can them, store your sweet pickles in the refrigerator. Once they’re ready, you can eat them right out of the jar, or use them on sandwiches.
Other uses include chopping them up and adding them to tuna or potato salads, or use them like relish over the top of your hotdogs. They’re also a great addition to a snack, relish, or charcuterie trays.
How Long Do Sweet Pickles Last?
Unopened jars of sweet pickles will last in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks. Once the jar is open, it’s best to eat them up within 2 weeks.
Canning them lengthens their shelf life to 1 year. Keep in mind that the older they are, the less crisp they may become.
Below are my answers to some of the most common questions about making your own sweet pickles.
What’s the difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles?
The key difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles is their taste. Bread and butter pickles tend to have warmer spices and dill added in the recipe, where sweet pickles use more sugar and sweeter spices, such as cloves and cinnamon.
What are sweet pickles made of?
Old fashioned sweet pickles are traditionally made of cucumbers, vinegar, pickling salt, sugar, and a variety of complimentary spices.
What sugar is best for sweet pickles?
Granulated sugar is best for sweet pickles because it dissolves the fastest, but you can use white cane sugar instead.
What are sweet pickles good for?
Sweet pickles are used for lots of things. They’re great to add to sandwiches, relish or appetizer trays, as a garnish, on hamburgers and brats, chopped up in potato, egg, or tuna salads, or eaten as a snack right out of the jar.
What makes sweet pickles sweet?
The sugar and spices are what makes sweet pickles sweet. Adding other ingredients, like sweet onions or peppers will also help to naturally enhance their sweetness.
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More About Cucumbers
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- How To Grow Cucumbers Vertically On A Trellis
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Share your favorite sweet pickles recipe in the comments section below.