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A Pickle of a Pickle: Old Time Family Favorites

Updated on August 17, 2015

Pickle Recipes From the Past

Ancient times most likely prompted the idea of pickling meat and vegetables. Their salted brine was essential to assure the pickled food to last long into the next year. I come from a long line of people who proudly made what they called their favorite pickle. Some were made in crocks and took many months to ferment. Like a fine wine the pickle barrel housed yet another special delicacy.

The most popular pickle is made from cucumbers with hundreds of variations to enjoy. Dill, bread and butter, sweet gherkins and hot spicy recipes only scratch the surface of the choice of cucumber pickles. Other things pickled are vegetables like beets, celery, onions, leeks, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, string beans and cabbage. Most any vegetable have been pickled in one form or another. Meat found its way into brine as well. Pickled heart, liver, tongue and pig’s feet was popular when trying to keep protein available before the refrigerator/freezer come into being. Vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices adhere to making pickles now just as it did in the early days.

I am about to share some pickle recipes my family has passed down from one generation to the next. Perhaps homemade pickles will once again be made famous when served on your family’s dinner table. Maybe you will even be inspired to share a few recipes your grandparents left to the next generation.

Twelve Day Icicle Pickles

Twelve Day Icicle Pickles

My mom, Lena Norton Madison made this sweet pickle recipe often over the years. I’m not sure where it originated from, but I first recall her making them over fifty years ago. Mom made these in a large earthen bowl or small crock covered with a dinner plate.

2 gallons cucumbers cut lengthwise and placed in brine (4 quarts hot water and 2 cups salt)

Let stand one week. Drain and cover with following syrup:

6 cups apple cider vinegar

5 cups sugar

A handful of pickling spices (You will find these mixed spices specially packaged for pickles in your spice isle)

Drain off each day for three days and reheat brine each day then add it back to the cucumbers. On the 3rd day, drain off syrup and add 1 cup of sugar to it and reheat once more. Pack pickles in jars and cover with the hot syrup. At this point pickles are ready to eat once they are cooled.


Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

This pickle recipe came from a neighbor, Sharon Ahearn of Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania which was included in a community cook book back in the early 70s.

Cucumbers sliced

1 tsp. alum per quart

A few garlic cloves

Fresh dill or seeds (1 tsp. per quart)

2 cups water

1 cup vinegar

3 tablespoons salt

Wash and slice cucumbers. Pack in jars. Add 1 teaspoon alum per quart, a few cloves garlic, and 1 teaspoon dill per quart.

Mix 2 cups water with 1 cup of vinegar (can be white or apple cider) and salt, then bring to boil and pour over cucumbers in jars and seal. Let these set several weeks to assure the dill flavor comes through before serving.


Spanish Green Tomato Pickles

Spanish Green Tomato Pickles

This recipe was passed down from my maternal great grandmother, Hattie Mattison Ordway. She was Pennsylvania Dutch and left the family many great recipes.

2 gallons green tomatoes peel and slice thin

2 quarts apple cider vinegar

1 quart sugar (4 cups)

2 tablespoons each of dry mustard, salt, and black ground pepper

1 tablespoon each of allspice and cloves

Mix and cook just until they begin to get tender. Pack in jars and seal.


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    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Oh, yes, relishes were good, too. I have many old relish recipes. It could be another hub in the future. Thanks for stopping by, aviannovice.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      My mother made cucumber pickles, too, and now that you mention it, she did tomatoes once, too. My father brought her a recipe for East Indian curried pickles, which he really liked, after he retired from the service. She also made a nice bread and butter pickle, and gherkins, too. Then there were the relishes...Great work, enjoyed it, as well as those great memories that you brought back.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, tirelesstraveler. The old recipes are the best.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Yummy! The best pickles ever have been made in a crock with a plate over the top. My friend found a crock a year ago, armed with her mom's recipe for pickles, originating in Southern, Ill., she made a large batch. Never have tasted a pickle that was so fresh and delicious. I think it took nearly a month to finish. I am on my way to eat a sad store bought pickle. Voted up interesting and useful.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thanks for the nice comment, My Cook Book.

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 4 years ago from India

      Good hub, thank you for the same.