Making Sweet Pickled Cucumbers - The Way Grandma Did
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Making Sweet Pickled Cucumbers  -  The Way Grandma Did

Can you remember your grandma making sweet pickled cucumbers when you used to visit her during the holidays? You probably can't quite recall just how she did it, but I am pretty sure that you can still taste that burst of vinegar when you bit into a plump, juicy gherkin!

The recipe that follows is not written in the usual 'ingredients and method' style, but rather in that chatty way in which Grandma would explain it to you while she's busy at the stove cooking dinner.

It would go something like this:

Choose ripe, thick cucumbers. Peel them, slice in half lengthwise and remove the pips, scraping them out with a silver spoon. Cut into slices. Put them into heavily salted water overnight. Remember to use coarse sea salt.

Drain them the following day, and boil them up, once only, in enough vinegar to cover. Drain them. For every pound of cucumbers weighed after draining, take 1/2 lb sugar and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Bring to the boil and place the cucumbers in the mixture, and allow to boil for a few minutes until they look glossy.

Take them out as they get done. Arrange the slices in layers in glass jars, putting a little finely cut, bruised ginger, a little stick of cinnamon, and a few mustard seeds on each layer. Pour over the hot vinegar.

After five days, drain off the vinegar and pour it through a sieve. Allow it to boil up again, and pour it boiling hot, over the cucumbers. Allow it to cool and seal the jars.

Now this may seem to be a very lengthy process to us, but there was a specific reason for doing it this way. The more you repeat the process of heating, covering and cooling, the greener the cucumbers become. In this case the cucumbers have been sliced, so only one repeat is necessary.

Should you use small whole cucumbers and you prefer to leave the skin on, then you repeat the process every twenty four hours. You can do this until you are satisfied with the color of the cucumbers. A lot of work, I know - and not likely to be undertaken by most of us!

Our grandmas took a lot of pride in what they did, and obviously time wasn't an issue then as it is to us today. I can just imagine how attractive the rows of jars must have been filled with bright green gherkins. At least no preservatives or colorants were ever used.

The modern method would be to simply pack the veggies and spices into hot sterilized jars, cover with hot vinegar, seal and process in a waterbath canner for the suggested time stated in your recipe.

Enjoy these pickles as part of a cheese board.


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