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recipe: cecile's seven-day sweet pickles
This classic sweet-and-sour pickle is an example of a fresh pickle, which means that it’s preserved by vinegar. The high sugar content also helps retard bacterial growth.

Recipe Conversions

Did You Know?
Are store-bought pickles fresh or fermented?

Fifty years ago, most cucumber pickles available in grocery stores were made by fermentation. Today, the majority of commercially available pickles are "fresh," not fermented. Fresh pickles are vegetables soaked in vinegar—a strong acid in which few microorganisms can survive. Vinegar not only preserves the vegetables, it also changes their flavor and texture.

In contrast, fermenting pickles encourages the growth of special bacteria; these microbes in turn produce an acid that helps to preserve the pickles. If you want to purchase the fermented variety, look closely at the label.

What Do I Need?
a soft vegetable brush
8 pounds small pickling cucumbers
1 quart (4 cups) cider vinegar
8 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons mixed pickle spices (available in the grocery store spice section)
a large, deep, stainless-steel, nonreactive pot
 8 to 10 1-pint glass canning jars and 2-piece canning lids
• canning equipment
 a narrow plastic spatula  
Carefully setting up and monitoring the conditions—ingredient quantities, temperature, time, and cleanliness—are essential to the success and safety of fermented pickles.
Questions about ingredients or supplies? Read the pickling tips.
What Do I Do? Tip
Holding your cucumbers too long before processing can cause them to soften, shrivel, or develop small brown spots. If possible, make pickles within 24 hours of picking the cucumbers.

NOTE: Please read the pickling tips and general canning instructions before starting this recipe.

Using a soft vegetable brush, scrub the cucumbers in cool running water. Cut 1/16 inch off the blossom end. Discard any cucumbers that are bruised or damaged.


2. Put the cucumbers in the nonreactive pot and cover with boiling water. Let them stand at room temperature for 24 hours.


3. Drain off the water and again cover with boiling water.
Repeat the process daily for 3 more days.


4. On day 5, bring the vinegar, salt, sugar and spices to a boil in the nonreactive pot. Slice the cucumbers into 1/4-inch thick chips and add to the pot. Let the pot stand at room temperature for 1 more day.

Using too much salt, sugar, or vinegar can cause your pickles to shrivel.

5. On day 6, drain off the liquid and bring it back to a boil. Add the cucumbers. Boil 1 minute and portion the pickles into clean, hot canning jars, filling each to within 3/4 inch of the top.


6. Cover the pickles with the brine, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jars. To remove air bubbles, gently run the plastic spatula (don't use a metal one) around the jar, keeping the utensil between the pickles and the jar's inner surface. If necessary, add more liquid to readjust headspace. Wipe any residue off the rims with a clean, damp towel. Apply lids and screwbands evenly and firmly until resistance is met—fingertip tight. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. The pickles will be ready to eat the next day.

What Else Can I Try? .
• Learn more about fermentation.

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