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Linda Lou's Sweet Pickle Chunks Redux

September 2, 2008

Hello, all!

Long time lurker, first time poster. For the first time in three years, we have defeated the cucumber beetle monsters and actually have some pickles in progress.

I had copied the LLSPC recipe years ago - I finally got around to making them this year, and I did have a few questions. Searching here finally did reveal (in numerous threads) the answers. I took the liberty of re-writing the recipe (mainly so I would remember how to make it next year), borrowing heavily from comments made by Carol (readinglady), Linda Lou herself, and others too numerous to mention...could you guys take a look and make sure I got the number of days, etc. correct?

BTW, I've done one batch and they are fabulous. Even my DH, who does not care for sweet pickles, likes these.

Here goes:

Linda Lou's Famous Sweet Pickle Chunks

Day 1 - Prepare 24 pickling cucumbers. Wash cucumbers gently, in several changes of water if necessary. Check their condition and discard any that aren't firm and fresh. (Ideally you're using cucumbers within 24 hours of picking.) You want them clean, but you don't want to break the skin. Cut 1/16 inch off blossom end (you can cut off both ends if you wish-it's quicker and easier than taking the time to check which end is which if you are doing a large batch). Do not cut up the cucumbers. Place in sterile container (bowl, food grade plastic tub, large pot, crock, etc.) and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Weight cucumbers so they're covered. Otherwise some cucumbers derive the benefit of the soak and others don't. A heavy bowl or plate that fits the container works well. Leave cucumbers at a cool room temperature (probably not above 75 degrees F).

If, at any point, you begin to notice scum forming, don't worry. Just rinse the cucumbers well and wash and rinse the container as well.

If you see mold forming or the cucumbers develop a nasty smell, ditch the batch.

Day 2 - Drain water off cucumbers and rinse well. Pour enough fresh boiling water over them to cover. Weight cucumbers so they're covered (rinse the bowl or plate that you're using for a weight as well).

Day 3 - Drain water off cucumbers and rinse well. Pour enough fresh boiling water over them to cover. Weight cucumbers so they're covered (rinse the bowl or plate that you're using for a weight as well).

Day 4 - Drain water off cucumbers and rinse well. Pour enough fresh boiling water over them to cover. Weight cucumbers so they're covered (rinse the bowl or plate that you're using for a weight as well).

Day 5 - Drain water off cucumbers and rinse well. Cut the cucumbers into chunks (or spears). Make a syrup by combining:

8 cups sugar

4 cups cider vinegar 5% acidity

3 1/2 tsp. pickling and canning salt

2 Tbsp. pickling spices, tied in a bag.

Heat syrup to boiling, stirring often to dissolve sugar. Pour over cucumber chunks and weight so they're covered.

Day 6 - Drain syrup and reheat drained syrup to boiling. Pour over cucumber chunks and weight so they're covered.

Day 7 - Drain syrup and reheat drained syrup to boiling. Pour over cucumber chunks and weight so they're covered. (Note: I add 1 teaspoon celery seed and 1 tablespoon mustard seed to syrup at this point, just because DH requested them. I also added an additional 1/4 cup cider vinegar, because we happen to like them a bit more "vinegary". I assume adding MORE vinegar is fine).

Day 8 - Drain syrup and reheat drained syrup to boiling. Pour over cucumber chunks and weight so they're covered.

Day 9 - Prepare pint canning jars. Drain syrup, remove pickling spice bag and reheat to boiling. Pack chunks into jars and cover with hot syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace. Put on 2-piece lids and process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Comments (21)

  • readinglady

    Allowing for a cursory look (I'm canning pickled beets) everything seems fine.

    Adding more vinegar isn't a problem.

    You might want to add a note that the 10 minutes is for pints. Quarts would be 15 minutes.

    Although recipe updates encourage canners to hot-pack pickles, I'm assuming this recipe is fine as is due to the long steeping in a heavy vinegar-sugar syrup. Linda_Lou might have a comment on that.


  • Linda_Lou

    Wow, I would never have thought of writing such a detailed method. That would help a lot of people. I get so many questions about these. I think I will copy and save your post !
    I got a kick out your name for them, too. Thank you !
    Adding extra vinegar is fine. If you like them more tart, that is ok.
    They are so sugar and vinegar laden I would not hesitate to raw pack these, just as I have always done. They are not like a quick pack pickle where you are just putting them in the vinegar, packing them , and processing.

  • never-give-up

    Thanks so much malna for doing this! I have looked at that recipe on a number of posts and still felt uncomfortable trying it, because like you said there was a comment on this thread, a tip on another, etc. Putting it together with all the information in one place is awesome. Thanks for all us newbees especially!!!

  • malna

    Whew, I'm so glad I got the recipe right. Don't know what it was, but one day I would read it one way and the next day I would second-guess myself and interpret it a different way.

    Glad it was helpful!

  • gardener1908

    In beginning you state " do not cut up cucumbers" then after step 5 , you state" pour over cucumber chunks'. At what step do they go from whole to chunks? Did I miss something? (wouldn't be the first time,LOL)

  • malna

    Day 5 - Drain water off cucumbers and rinse well. Cut the cucumbers into chunks (or spears).

    On Day 1 through 4, they are whole while they are in water.
    Cut them up on Day 5 just before you put them into the syrup.

  • shirleywny5

    I have the exact recipe Linda Lou has. You pour boiling water over the 1st,2nd 3rd and 4th day. Draining each day. Don't rinse. On the 5th day, drain and cut into chunks or bite size pieces. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil and pour over chunks in gallon jar. Let stand undisturbed for 2 days. On the 7th day, pour liquid into large pot and bring to boil. Fill jars with unheated pickles to 1/2 inch from top. Process 10 min. in BWB.
    Mark your calender the day you start and also the day you cut then up and the day you place in jars.
    Linda Lou, you heat the syrup 4 times. I heat it 2 times total.

  • jcpyburn

    These sound wonderful but I am wondering can you use regular cucumbers for these? My picklers are not producing much right now but I could make them with regular ones. If not I guess I will have to hit the farmers market and maybe see if anyone has any. TIA!


  • gardener1908

    Thanks, Malna, I knew I knew(does that sound like a Rumsfield comment or what?) I was missing something, just like I didn't see it, brain going faster than the words,thanks for pointing it out, now I see it. I don't know if it is just me or what ,but sometimes I feel that I do read these post, and then I miss something,and I'm like okay I'm not sure here, then I don't want to make a redundant post, then I don't know what to do. Does this make sense or have I spent too much time in the garden today feeling confused about what to do and my brain is just fried? I am so glad I can( pun intended) come here and get some help. Thanks so much!!

  • malna

    You are not alone - that happens to me all the time!

    Just ask the question and you'll get the answer (sometimes conflicting and maybe not what you wanted to hear, but that's all part of the fun!)

    Glad I could help :-)

  • Linda_Lou

    Hi, this is Linda Lou. Yep, my Momma and I used to use regular cucumbers and they turne out fine. Only once in a great while would we get hollow cucumbers, but they taste good, just not as pretty. They were not spoiled or anything, just the way the cukes grew.

  • annie1992

    Can them? Who the heck cans them?

    Ashley and her friends eat the chunks out of the bucket on the counter as soon as they're in the brine, heck, I never have enough left to can.

    LOLOL No, that's not exactly true but somehow I never get the same yield as the recipe says.....


  • jcpyburn

    Thanks Linda Lou! I am glad to hear that! By the way I made your zucchini relish and it was out of this world! It is now my new favorite and by the way it is also wonderful with baked chicken!


  • Linda_Lou

    So glad you liked the relish recipe. I do, too. Never had it with chicken, though. I like it on a sandwich.
    I just posted a recipe for zucchini marmalade with pineapple. Sounds great, but I have not made the recipe.

  • mellyofthesouth

    So I finally had access to enough cucumbers to try out the famous recipe. Some of the cucumbers were bigger than called for and I included them anyway. Well there must be a reason why you don't use big ones, because they turned to complete mush inside their skins and had to be discarded along the way. The remaining cukes are on day 3 of the sugar syrup.

    I have a question about trimming the ends. In the version above, you trim the ends before beginning but in an older version, I saw that Linda Lou had said not to trim the ends until slicing them into chunks. I trimmed the ends and wondered if that would make a difference.

    I'm using my German Harsch crock. I was perusing other recipes and read the one I'm pasting below. I wondered whether I should be cleaning the crock each day? That crock is a 10 liter model and weighs quite a bit. I have it sitting next to the sink since that way I can take it to edge it and tilt it over to pour out of it rather than have to try to pick it up. The only other suitable container I have is plastic and I really wasn't crazy about pouring so much boiling liquid into even though it is food grade.

    My last question is about room temperature. I usually keep the house between 77 and 78 degrees this time of year. Will that affect the pickle process? After the first day or two, I moved the thermostat down to 76 for the duration but that is as low as I'm willing to go.

    This recipe is a bit different than linda lou's. It uses salt in the water which is changed every other day. Then the sugar solution is gradually increased.

    14-Day Sweet Pickles

    Can be canned whole, in strips, or in slices

    14-day Sweet Pickles

    * 4 lbs of 2- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers (If packed whole, use cucumbers of uniform size)
    * 3/4 cup canning or pickling salt (Separated 1/4 cup on each of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th days)
    * 2 tsp celery seed
    * 2 tbsp mixed pickling spices
    * 5-1/2 cups sugar
    * 4 cups vinegar (5 percent)

    Yield: About 5 to 9 pints

    Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

    Procedure: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4-inch of stem attached. Place whole cucumbers in suitable 1-gallon container. Add 1/4 cup canning or pickling salt to 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Pour over cucumbers. Add suitable cover and weight. Place clean towel over container and keep the temperature at about 70ºF.

    On the third and fifth days, drain salt water and discard. Rinse cucumbers and rescald cover and weight. Return cucumbers to container. Add 1/4 cup salt to 2 quarts fresh water and boil. Pour over cucumbers. Replace cover and weight, and re-cover with clean towel. On the seventh day, drain salt water and discard. Rinse cucumbers and rescald containers, cover, and weight. Slice or strip cucumbers, if desired, and return to container. Place celery seed and pickling spices in small cheesecloth bag. Combine 2 cups sugar and 4 cups vinegar in a saucepan. Add spice bag, bring to a boil and pour pickling solution over cucumbers. Add cover and weight, and re-cover with clean towel.

    On each of the next six days, drain syrup and spice bag and save. Add 1/2 cup sugar each day and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Remove cucumbers and rinse. Scald container, cover, and weight daily. Return cucumbers to container, add boiled syrup, cover, weight, and re-cover with towel.

    On the 14th day, drain syrup into saucepan. Fill sterile pint jars, or clean quart jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/2 cup sugar to syrup and bring to boil. Remove spice bag. For more information see "Sterilization of Empty Jars" Pour hot syrup over cucumbers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1 or use low- temperature pasteurization treatment. For more information see "Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment,".
    Table 1. Recommended process time for 14-day Sweet Pickles in a boiling-water canner.
    Process Time at Altitudes of
    Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
    Raw Pints 5 min 10 15
    Quarts 10 15 20

  • readinglady

    I make a similar recipe. I trim off the blossom end (as directed in the NCHFP recipe) because the blossom contains enzymes which can cause softening of the pickles. For myself, I also trim the stem end. A lot of bacteria collects around the stem and it can be challenging to clean that area thoroughly without bruising the cucumber skin (which is to be avoided). In addition, I am usually making large batches and I'm not interested in standing at the sink perusing each cucumber to determine whether I'm looking at the blossom or stem end. It's easier to do both.

    The crock doesn't need to be cleaned every day; the only exception would be if you're seeing signs of contamination (i.e. mold). Otherwise, it should be fine. You have boiling water and salt; assuming the cucumbers are well-cleaned, that's not an environment conductive to contamination.

    It does sound as if the larger cucumbers were over-ripe or perhaps had been picked earlier.

    70-75° is optimal but it's when you get above 80° that the process is at risk. I'd say 76° should be great. 79° might be cutting it a little fine.


  • tracydr

    Can I ask the purpose of reboilng the liquids so many times?

  • readinglady

    If you're speaking of Melly's recipe, what happens over time is juices leach out of the cucumbers and weaken the brine solution, changing the pH. Draining off the old brine and replacing with fresh brine restores equilibrium and reduces the likelihood of contamination or mold issues.

    Sometimes, though not in this recipe, successive salt brines are stronger. Gradually increasing the strength of the brines helps prevent shrivelling of the cucumbers.

    However, not all recipes refresh the brine. It's only one of several methods.

    I'm sure there are others more knowledgeable about the chemistry who can further clarify.


  • mellyofthesouth

    Thanks Carol.

    I helped our CSA with the harvest at the end so I had personally picked all the cucumbers that morning and started after dinner time. So I'm going with their being over ripe. The 39 remaining cukes yielded 11 pints.

    Have you ever posted the pickle recipe you use? I've not had access to appropriate cucumbers before so we are trying to figure what we like the best.

    Our 13 y.o. daughter was snacking on them as I was putting them into jars last night. She said they just tasted like cucumbers and not pickles. But that is probably because I was really busy when it was time to start the sugar syrup and didn't have to time to mix up some pickling spices. Then I got lazy and left them out. So they pretty much are like candied cucumbers.

  • psychorn11

    do you add any pickle crisp into jar before processing?

  • Rosie025

    I just started making Linda Lou's Sweet Pickles & am on day 3, but have a couple of questions. since this is my first time making fermented pickles, they may sound ridiculous, but I want to be sure!!
    1. How much does this recipe make? I am very bad at guessing how many jars to prep by just looking.
    2. Does anyone add pickle crisp before processing?
    3. I think I read (and I may just be confused) one person saying to rinse the pickles on the boiling water days, and one person says not to rinse. Which is it?
    4. I am using my crock pot insert. I should put the lid on, right? Right away, or when the water cools?
    5. Once you get to the syrup step, does anyone have problems with bugs? especially fruit flies?

    Thanks for your help!!

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