How to make Sweet & Sour Pickles…

THE FOLLOWING RECIPE was shared with me by the late Icie Evans Williams many years ago. She was an excellent cook and at one time, she operated Brooks Cafe on the Western Front in St. Paul. She also worked at the Roost and the Village Restaurant. I learned much of what I know about the practical side of cooking from Icie.


You will need approximately two gallon of sliced pickling cucumbers for this recipe. The cucumbers should be about 4 to 5 inches in length and as fresh as possible. They should also have good color and be free of blemishes and soft spots. Slice the unpeeled cucumbers about 1/4 inch uniform thickness, and discard the ends.


Place the sliced cucumbers in a 2-gallon graniteware or stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum). In a separate pot, bring approximately 1 gallon of water to a boil. Pour 1 cup of pickling salt (not iodized salt) into the water then bring it to a boil once again. Remove from heat and carefully pour the salted water over the sliced cucumbers. The cucumbers should be completely covered by the water.

Weigh the sliced cucumbers down using a heavy plate so they will remain under the surface of the salt water. Let stand 24 hours then drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water.


Dissolve 4 tablespoons of powdered alum in two gallons of boiling water. Carefully pour alum water over drained & rinsed cucumbers. Once again, place a heavy plate on top to keep the cucumbers below the surface of the alum solution. Let stand for 24 hours.


Drain the alum water from the cucumbers but do not rinse. To about 1 gallon of boiling apple cider vinegar, add 3 cups of white sugar, 3 tablespoons of turmeric, and two tablespoons (or more) of pickling spice, depending upon your personal taste. Be sure to use fresh pickling spice for best flavor. Return to a boil, then pour vinegar solution over cucumbers. They should remain in the vinegar solution for 24 hours.


The following day drain the vinegar solution into a pot, bring it to a boil, add another cup of sugar, then once again pour it over the cucumbers. Leave the cucumbers in the vinegar solution for 24 hours, then repeat the process. The number of times this will be necessary depends upon the density of the cucumbers. When they look “clear” all the way through, you’ll know the cucumbers have become intensely sweet, sour, and crisp pickles.

Pack the processed pickles into sterilized wide-mouth pint canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Heat the vinegar solution then pour over the pickles, again leaving 1/2 inch head space. Follow the instructions on the canning lid box for the preparation of the lids, then apply the canning rings and tighten according to package directions.

Place a rack in the bottom of a water-bath canner, place the filled jars upon it, then cover the jars with water (about 2 inches over the top of the jars). Bring the water to a boil and boil filled jars for 15 minutes. Remove jars and place on a folded towel in a draft-free place to cool.

Next comes the fun part – eating the pickles!

Pickles made from this recipe are especially good when diced and used in deviled eggs and potato salad. We’ll be featuring step-by-step instructions for making potato salad next.

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