When I think of pickles, I typically think of kosher spears to accompany a burger or hot dog. However, if I think back to my childhood, I think of holiday celebrations and pretty bowls with divided sections. In one section would be black olives, and in the other would be sweet pickles. How elegant I thought we were serving these treats before dinner. It is how I imagined all dinners at fancy restaurants started. Ahh, the joys of being a child.
Seeing this recipe from the Big Mill Bed and Breakfast in Williamston, North Carolina, I couldn’t help but think of those tasty treats from my childhood.
- 7 lbs. cucumbers*
- 2 cups pickling lime
- Numerous buckets of water
- 1/2 gallon 5% white distilled vinegar (most vinegar is 5%)
- 5 lbs. sugar
- 3 Tb. pickling spice
- Wash the cucumbers. Slice crosswise into 1/8″-1/4″ slices.
- Mix 2 cups of lime with several cups of water in a large ceramic, enamel or stainless steel vessel. Stir to blend.
- Add the cut cucumbers and enough water to cover them. Gently stir the mixture. Be very careful — they will break so easily.
- Soak for 24 hours.
- (I remember my mother making these pickles. Sometimes she had a plate on top to hold down the cucumbers.) As you pass by, gently stir under the cukes, just to loosen the settled lime. Note: you can soak them for 48 hours, and they are still wonderful.
- After soaking for 24 hours, rinse the cucumbers in clear water. Then change the water every hour on the hour, 4 times.
- Tie pickling spices in a double thickness of cheesecloth. Put 1/2 gallon distilled vinegar, 5 pounds sugar and the pickling spices into a large stainless steel or enamel cooking pot. Stir to melt the sugar. Add the cucumbers and bring to a boil. Let stand overnight.
- Next day bring the cucumbers and vinegar to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Pack pickles and vinegar mixture into sterilized jars according to canning instructions.
- *Use small or long pickling cucumbers. Burpless work too. Just don’t use large cucumbers with many seeds.