Sweet Pickles {How to Make Homemade Pickles for Canning

Sweet Pickles {How to Make Homemade Pickles for Canning

Sweet pickles are about as traditional in the south as sweet tea. Sweet pickles should always be homemade and the cucumbers should come from your own garden. There’s nothing like sweet pickles as a snack or chopped up in potato, chicken, or tuna salad and I’m here to tell you, store-bought sweet pickles don’t hold a candle to the ones my mama can make!

I have always relied on her for sweet pickles. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a garden anymore. Cucumbers are hard for her to come by unless a good neighbor has some to give her. To buy produce after you’ve had your own garden is almost like committing a sin.

waterbath canner with pickles in jars

Looking back, it seems like mama spent her entire summer canning and putting up vegetables in the freezer. Besides harvest, summer was the busiest time of year growing up on the farm. My mama and daddy had a huge beautiful garden every summer. Whatever didn’t come out of the garden was grown in a field elsewhere. All those vegetables only meant one thing; it meant that big stainless steel pressure canner was on the stove, and Lord have mercy, you better watch out!

My mama looked like a mad scientist in the kitchen with that thing on the stove. The house was hotter than 40 hells. Steam filled the kitchen with hot jars as that huge pressure canner valve sat on the stove-top ticking, hissing, and spitting. Perhaps my memories of her canning in the kitchen frightened me. It seemed really complicated and really HOT! She told me more than once about what could happen if the pressure canner got too much pressure inside. It was pretty frightening, to say the least.

So consequently, not being able to get sweet pickles when I needed them sucked. This made me realize that I needed to put on my big girl pants and learn how to make sweet pickles for myself or I was going to have to do without. There is just no way that I’m going the rest of my life without tuna fish salad, potato salad or chicken salad.

Nope, no way!

jars of pickles

Thankfully, water bath canning is nothing like that scary stainless steel pressure canner in my mama’s kitchen all those years ago. I went out and bought all the items necessary for making sweet pickles, including a brand spanking new pickling crock. I dove into pickle making head first and these pickles are the first thing I have ever canned in my life!!

Ya know what? 

I’m pretty proud of myself. I made some pretty darn good sweet pickles and they are ((ALMOST)) as good as my mama’s AND I processed them to enjoy the whole year through with a new water bath canner.

I know I’m beating my chest like a baboon, and you pros out there that can and preserve things all the time are probably laughing at me right now, but that’s ok. I’m gonna share this recipe for Sweet Pickles that will knock your socks off. It comes straight from a bag of Mrs. Wages pickling lime, without any alterations.

ingredients and equipment to make sweet pickles

How To Make Sweet Pickles

Yield: 10 Pints

Equipment needed to make sweet pickles:

Ingredients to make sweet pickles:

  • 7 pounds medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup pickling lime
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 8 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canning and pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon mixed pickling spice

Directions:

Wash the cucumbers. Slice off about ⅛-inch from blossom end; slice all the cucumbers crosswise and place the slices into a large bowl.

In a non-aluminum container, such as a pickling crock.  ~ Lime solutions should not be used in aluminum and cause containers to pit

cucumbers in pickling crock

Mix the pickling lime in water and add the cucumbers to the solution. Add water to the crock until the cucumbers are covered with water; soak the cucumbers overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally.

The next day, rinse the cucumbers well in cool water. The best way to do this is to dump the cucumbers into the sink with the drain plugged; run cold water in the sink and gently toss the cucumbers around in the cold water a few times. Drain, while using the spray nozzle to spray the cucumbers as the water drains out. Do this at least 3 times.

cucumbers cover in lime

After rinsing the lime off of the cucumbers, clean out the crock or container well. Make sure the container is free of lime. Add the cucumbers back into the crock; cover and soak the cucumbers 3 more hours in ice water inside the refrigerator.

rinsed cucumbers

In a bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt together with a whisk until dissolved. Drain the cucumber slices from the ice water in the refrigerator.

pickling solution in a pot
pickling crock inside refrigerator

Add the slices back into the container and pour syrup over the cucumber slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

The next day, drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Make a Bouquet garni, by laying a 5 x 5-inch piece of cheesecloth onto a clean work surface. Spoon the pickling spice into the center. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together in the center, twisting tightly; tie firmly with kitchen string. Trim the ends with scissors, if necessary.

pickling spice in cheese cloth

Place the bouquet into the pot with the pickling syrup; simmer for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. (Do not boil.)  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

jars inside waterbath canner

Next, pack cucumber slices into hot sterilized quart jars. Using a canning funnel, ladle the hot syrup over slices to cover; leaving ½-inch head-space.

Remove air bubbles and wipe rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Place the prepared jars into the canning rack and gently lower the rack of jars into the canner, making sure that the lids are covered by at least 2-inches of water.

jars of pickles ready to go into canner

Finally, process pint jars for 10 minutes, using the boiling water bath method. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit for about 5-minutes, before removing the jars one at a time to cool on a towel; leave the jars undisturbed to cool at room temperature for at least 24-hours. After 24 hours, check lids for seal (Lid should not flex up and down when pressed in the center).

jars in steaming hot canner
lifting a jar of sweet pickles from canner

The pickles are ready to eat after 24-hours. Chill to enhance the flavor.

Note: Always prepare and process canning jars and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions for sterilized jars. Keep the jars hot.


In conclusion, learning to can is a little addictive. Since I made these sweet pickles, I have made and canned my own jalapeno jelly. I think I’m going to try my hand at dill pickles very soon.

Wish me luck!

My Signature
sweet pickles in jars
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4.5 from 4 votes

Sweet Pickles

Learn how to make sweet pickles for canning to enjoy all year long with this wonderful pickling recipe for water bath canning. They're crispy and delicious!
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword canning, pickles, sweet pickles
Servings 10 Pint Jars
Author Debbie Spivey

Ingredients

  • 7 pounds medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup pickling lime
  • 2 gallons water
  • 8 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pickling and canning salt
  • 1 tablespoon mixed pickling spice

Instructions

  • Wash the cucumbers. Slice off about ⅛-inch from blossom end; slice all the cucumbers crosswise and place the slices into a large bowl.
  • In a non-aluminum container, such as a pickling crock.
  • Mix the pickling lime in water and add the cucumbers to the solution. Add water until the cucumbers are covered; soak the cucumbers overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally.
  • When the cucumbers are done soaking, rinse them well in cool water. The best way to do this is to dump the cucumbers into the sink with the drain plugged; run cold water in the sink and gently toss the cucumbers around in the cold water a few times. Drain, while using the spray nozzle to spray the cucumbers as the water drains out. Do this at least 3 times.
  • When the lime has been rinsed off of the cucumbers, clean out the crock or container used to soak the cucumbers well and make sure it is free of lime. Add the cucumbers back into the crock and soak the cucumbers 3 more hours in ice water.
  • In a bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt together with a whisk until dissolved. Drain the cucumber slices from the ice water in the refrigerator.
  • Add the slices back into the container and pour syrup over the cucumber slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.
  • The next day, drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Make a Bouquet garni, by laying a 5 x 5-inch piece of cheesecloth onto a clean work surface. Spoon the pickling spice into the center. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together in the center, twisting tightly; tie firmly with kitchen string. Trim the ends with scissors, if necessary.
  • Place the bouquet into the pot with the pickling syrup; simmer for 35 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. (Do not boil.) Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
  • Next, pack cucumber slices into hot sterilized quart jars. Using a canning funnel, ladle the hot syrup over slices to cover; leaving ½-inch head-space.
  • Remove air bubbles and wipe rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Process pint jars for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method.

Notes

Lime solutions should not be used in aluminum and cause containers to pit.
Always prepare and process canning jars and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions for sterilized jars. Keep the jars hot.
Recipe adapted very little from Mrs. Wages
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12 thoughts on “Sweet Pickles {How to Make Homemade Pickles for Canning”

  • Loved the write-up and the personal history. We have a bumper crop of cukes and now I’m inspired to do this. The passion might wane but I ‘ll keep in mind your line . . .store bought are not nearly as good. It is the same with homemade jelly which I do.

    • Thank you, Sandra. Now that I’ve started to can I could become adicted. I made some Jalapeño Jelly after I did the pickles that turned out great. If you make these pickles, enlist the help of Phil when dumping and pouring out the cucumbers especially if you use a crock. Wow, is it heavy!! Good luck, and if ya want a jar I could always swing by and bring you one or two of mine!

  • No one is laughing at you, smiling maybe because all of us that can remember the first time and the first thing we ever canned, and you’re right canning is addictive. Before long you’ll need more space for all the things you will have cannned and the pressure canners now days are so much safer and easier to use you should try it when you’re more comfortable with canning. I just got he new ball cannning book Its called The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving, it’s great and for a newbie like your self it would be perfect. It has all the basic information on water bathing, Pressure canning, freezing, dehydrating,and fermenting, and it has over 350 recipes in it, I love love love this book and I bet you would to. So enjoy your pickles and I’m probably gonna try them and happy canning.

    • Pam, thanks so much for your comments and the suggestion of the canning book. I have thought about getting it, but wasn’t sure if I would use it. I appreciate the review. I just may go out and buy it now! Luckily we have room in our basement for canned goods, just need a nice shelf to put it on. I hope you will try these pickles, although they are time consuming, they turned out great for me and worth the effort put into them. For a pro like you I’m sure you will have no problems at all! 🙂

  • So glad you got around to making pickles! I still have yet to do it the “real” way, even though my brother bought me all the gear over 5 years ago! Still in the box! I’ll get there one day!

  • My mom wasn’t much of a cook but she could sure can some delicious sweet pickles. I haven’t had them since I was in college! You did a great job and they look delicious!

    • Hi Kathy! Not exactly, but if I did not have this type, I would use sweet gherkins as a substitute. These pickles are have a bolder flavor. Personally I like them better than the gherkins. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!

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