Pick Tennessee Products
 Local Food, Fun & Finds!

The Cold, Crisp Facts About Cucumbers (and Pickles!)


The peak season for cucumbers runs from May through September.

Selection: Pick solid green cucumbers with no signs of yellow streaks at the base, which is a sign of over maturity. Cucumbers should feel firm and have no water-soaked spots or pitting. Avoid using any exceptionally large cucumbers for pickles; though seeds are edible, if cukes are allowed to age too much, their hold less moisture and their seeds become hard.

Storage: Keep cucumbers in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Adequate humidity is important so that shriveling doesn’t occur due to moisture loss. They will keep up to a week or longer if kept refrigerated.

Peel or No Peel: Peeling is a matter of personal preference depending on mood, recipe, and how much time you have to put into it. Bottom line: the peel is edible.

Nutrition: Cucumbers are great sources of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Cucumbers are very low in calories with fair amounts of vitamin A, potassium, iron, and calcium. Six slices with the peel still intact has only 5 calories because it’s so full of water.

Dill Pickles

Pickles are high acid products that are brined, which means they must be processed in a boiling water bath. This destroys yeasts, molds, and bacteria that may cause the products to spoil while it vacuum seals the jars.

Yield: 6 pints

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 12 sprigs fresh dill sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 30 cucumbers (4 inches long), trimmed

In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile place one sprig of dill, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard seeds in the bottom of each pint canning jar. Pack the cucumbers into the jars.

When jars are half filled with cucumbers, add one more dill sprig and complete packing with cucumbers. Fill with the brine solution and leave 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the jar rims, and adjust the lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

Ice Water Pickles

The name of these crispy pickles comes from the ice water soak they receive prior to being packed into hot canning jars.

Yield: 6 quarts

  • 6 pounds medium cucumbers
  • Ice
  • 3 quarts white vinegar
  • 1 cup pickling salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 36 small pickling onions, peeled
  • 6 (2-inch) slices celery
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds

Cut each cucumber into 4 to 8 spears. Place in a large bowl and soak in ice water 3 hours. Replace the ice as needed. Bring the vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, drain the cucumbers and pack into hot canning jars. Add 6 onions, 1 celery slice, and 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds to each quart jar. Pour the hot brine in each jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace

Remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims, and adjust the lids. Process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

Quick Sour Pickles

These pickles are easy to prepare and have a tart flavor. They develop a better flavor if you allow them to stand at room temperature 3 weeks before using.

Yield: 8 pints

  • 1/2 gallon cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  • 25 medium cucumbers, sliced lengthwise

Place the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and seeds in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pack the cucumber slices into hot canning jars. Fill the jars with the hot liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the jar rims, and adjust the lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

Sweet Pickle Chips

This is a marvelous blend of spices, sugar, and vinegar. The pickles have a firm, crisp texture and pungent flavor.

Yield: 5 pints

  • 4 pounds pickling cucumbers (3 to 4 inches long), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 5 2/3 cups white vinegar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons celery seeds

In a large stockpot, combine the cucumbers with 4 cups of the vinegar, salt, mustard seeds, and 1/2 cup sugar. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until the cucumbers change color from bright to dull green, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining vinegar and sugar with the allspice, and celery seeds over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

Drain the cucumber slices and pack while still hot into canning jars. Cover with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the jar rims, and adjust the lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Yield: 4 1/2 pints

  • 4 cups chopped cucumbers
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and red peppers. Sprinkle evenly with the pickling salt. Cover with cold water and let stand 2 hours. Drain well.

Combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and add the vegetables. Return to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Pack the relish into hot canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the jar rims, and adjust the lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

More Recipes



Pick Tennessee Products is presented by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division.
© 2013 State of Tennessee | State of Tennessee Web Policies