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Granny’s Sweet Pickles

These mouth-watering sweet pickles are so delicious we nicknamed them “candy pickles!” They’ve been a favorite in our family for generations!

jar of homemade pickles; text overlay "Old Fashioned Sweet Pickles"

Old-Fashioned Sweet Pickles

As long as I can remember, my Granny has always had a jar of her homemade sweet pickles handy. They make everything taste better, from burgers to chicken salad! I love them so much that I will eat them straight out of the jar!

A couple years ago I started a vegetable garden — and I ended up with a big crop of cucumbers. I figured, what better to make than my Granny’s famous sweet pickles?!

These pickles are so deliciously sweet that they taste like candy! Of course, there is a slight vinegar tang that keeps them from being too sweet, but it is perfectly balanced by the sugar and crisp cucumbers.

These pickles are addicting!! No wonder the recipe has been around for half a century (or maybe longer!) and a favorite in our family for generations!

When I decided to make this recipe for the first time, I checked in with my Granny first and she sent me a photo of her original recipe card:

old recipe card for Crystal pickles

They’re called “Crystal Slice Pickles” but even when I google that name I haven’t found this exact recipe. Most recipes for “Crystal Pickles” that I’ve found include lime or even green food coloring!

I’ve never found another pickle quite like my Granny’s sweet pickles — there is nothing like them! I hope your family will love them too!

A few things to know before starting this recipe:

  • It will take you a minimum of 9 days total to make these pickles, however, most of that time is simply waiting. Each day you have only a few minutes of actual work, and some days you don’t need to do anything at all.
  • The prep time, cooking time, etc. don’t fit well in the slots on the recipe card; but everything will make sense in the written recipe.
  • These pickles are definitely a labor of love, but it does make a big batch and is SO worth it!

Ingredients

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  • 2 Gallons Medium Size Cucumbers — Depending on the cucumbers I had on hand, I used anywhere from 6 large to 8 small/medium cucumbers. I don’t think there is an exact amount; you just want to make sure that you use enough liquid to cover everything.
  • 2 Cups Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Powdered Alum Common in pickling recipes
  • 3 Gallons Water — You’ll use about 1 gallon per day for the first 3 days.
  • 1 Gallon Vinegar — I’ve made this recipe with white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar. I prefer the white vinegar.
  • 1 Small Box Pickling Spice I have a large container of pickling spice, so I used about 1/2 cup each time I made the recipe.
  • 7 Pounds Sugar — I actually didn’t need quite this much, but you will need a lot.

Depending on how many cucumbers you use, you should get anywhere from 2-4 quarts of pickles. The cool thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t have to be an exact amount. Just use what you have!

Kitchen Tools Used

  • Large enamel pot or Dutch oven
  • Colander
  • Large saucepan (needs to hold at least 1 gallon of liquid at a boil)
  • Large casserole dish
  • Mason jars and Canning Tools

Directions

The entire process takes almost a week, depending on how long you soak the pickles in sugar before canning them. At the least, it will take 9 days. Again, this is probably only a couple hours of actual work and the rest of the time the pickles are simply soaking.

Day 1

  1. Wash the cucumbers and use a fork to poke holes in the skin. My Granny said to do this about 9 times on each cucumber, so that’s what I do.
  2. Place the cucumbers in the bottom of a large enamel pan — I used a Dutch oven.
  3. In a separate large pot on the stovetop, combine the salt with a gallon of water and bring to a boil. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pour the salt water over the cucumbers and allow to sit for 24 hours.

TIP: Sometimes the cucumbers will float, so I use a pot lid weighted down with a rock to keep them fully submerged in the salt water.

poking holes in a pickle with a fork

Day 2

  1. Drain salt water from the pot of cucumbers.
  2. Mix the powdered alum and one gallon of water in a large pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then pour over the cucumbers and allow to stand for 24 hours.

TIP: Place a kitchen towel under the pot of hot water and cucumbers, to protect your countertop.

Day 3

  1. Drain the alum water from the pot of cucumbers. Rinse and drain again.
  2. Bring a gallon of plain water to boil, then pour the boiling water over the cucumbers in the enamel pot. Soak for 24 hours.

TIP: Be sure to use potholders and pour slowly, so as to not splash yourself with hot water.

Day 4

  1. Drain cucumbers.
  2. Combine the vinegar and pickling spices in a large pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the vinegar solution on top of the cucumbers and soak for 5 days.

Days 5-8

  1. Continue soaking cucumbers in vinegar brine.
  2. Stir occasionally.

Day 9

  1. Drain cucumbers.
  2. Slice cucumbers about 1/4-1/2″ thick, depending on your preference, and place in a colander to continue draining.
  3. Layer cucumbers in a large casserole dish, alternating layers of cucumbers and sugar.
  4. Allow the cucumbers to soak in the sugar syrup for at least 24 hours before canning or enjoying.

4-step photo collage showing how to layer cucumber slices in sugar to make sweet pickles

Days 10-12

I usually soak my pickles in the sugar syrup for about 3 days, but it doesn’t have to be exact. I just want to make sure to give the syrup time to develop before I divide up the pickles into sterilized jars for canning. I use a water bath canning method so I can keep the pickles in my pantry for a year or two, until I need them. They don’t always last that long because they are requested by friends and family!

If any of the cans do not seal, or if you don’t want to bother canning, you can keep these in the fridge for a couple months.

Related: Learn about how to can pickles for long-term storage with a hot water bath here.

 

jar of homemade sweet pickles

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Type of Pickle to Use for Sweet Pickles?

The original printed recipe does not specify a certain type of cucumber. I have tried this recipe using at least 4 different kinds of cucumbers, and all turned out equally fabulous!

This is not the case with dill pickles, which can turn out mushy if you don’t use pickling cucumbers or pickling spice. However, my sweet pickles have always been flavorful and perfectly crunchy. I’ve used my own home-grown pickling cucumbers and Japanese cucumbers from the garden. I’ve also used random cucumbers that have been brought to me when family request me to make this recipe for them. I really don’t think you can go wrong!

I don’t know for sure, but it must be the sugar that crisps them up every time and makes this recipe almost foolproof.

What is in Pickling Spice?

When buying a pickling spice, the exact blend will vary depending on the brand. However, there are a few common spices that you’re likely to see on the ingredient list. Cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, ginger, cilli pepper, cloves, black pepper, mace, cardamom — are all things that you might find in a pickling spice mixture.

Do You Need to Use Pickling Salt?

In many recipes for dill pickles, pickling salt is on the ingredient list. However, this sweet pickle recipe does not call for pickling salt, so I do not use it. The pickles turn out crispy on their own.

Do You Have to Can the Pickles?

No, you don’t have to can the pickles if you plan to use them right away. When you keep them in a container in the fridge, they will stay good for a couple months. However, this is a pretty big batch, so I always can them in pint jars so I can keep them in my pantry instead of taking up space in the fridge.

Do You Need to Use a Pressure Canner?

Since pickles are kept in a highly acidic pickling liquid, they do not require pressure canning. Water bath canning is suitable for this recipe.

Always take care to sterilize the mason jars beforehand and make sure they all seal. Any jars that do not seal during canning should be kept refrigerated.

How Long Do the Pickles Stay Good?

When you use a water bath canning process like we do and the jars seal properly, these pickles have a shelf life of 1-2 years.

If you do not can the pickles or if any of the jars do not seal, you can keep those pickles in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. I’m pretty sure my Granny keeps them longer than that though.

If you open a new jar of pickles and notice any signs of mold or anything that looks or smells “off” then you should toss them, to be safe.

Old-Fashioned Sweet Pickles Recipe (Printable Copy)

If you love this recipe, please rate it!

Old-Fashioned 9-Day Sweet Pickles Recipe

Stacey
These mouth-watering sweet pickles are so delicious we nicknamed them "candy pickles!" They've been a favorite in our family for generations!
Prep Time 9 d
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 9 d 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 quarts

Equipment

  • Large Dutch Oven
  • Large saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Gallons Medium Size Cucumbers
  • 2 Cups Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Powdered Alum
  • 3 Gallons Water 1 gallon of water per day for first 3 days
  • 1 Gallon Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Pickling Spice Or 1 small box
  • 7 Pounds Sugar You may not need quite that much, but you will use a lot

Instructions
 

Day 1

  • Wash the cucumbers and use a fork to poke holes in the skin. My Granny said to do this about 9 times on each cucumber, so that's what I do.
  • Place the cucumbers in the bottom of a large enamel pan -- I used a Dutch oven.
  • In a separate large pot on the stovetop, combine the salt with a gallon of water and bring to a boil. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pour the salt water over the cucumbers and allow to sit for 24 hours.
  • TIP: Sometimes the cucumbers will float, so I use a pot lid weighted down with a rock to keep them fully submerged in the salt water.

Day 2

  • Drain salt water from the pot of cucumbers.
  • Mix the powdered alum and one gallon of water in a large pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then pour over the cucumbers and allow to stand for 24 hours.

Day 3

  • Drain the alum water from the pot of cucumbers. Rinse and drain again.
  • Bring a gallon of plain water to boil, then pour over the cucumbers in the enamel pot. Soak for 24 hours.

Day 4

  • Drain cucumbers.
  • Combine the vinegar and pickling spices in a large pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the vinegar on top of the cucumbers and soak for 5 days.

Days 5-8

  • Continue soaking cucumbers in vinegar.
  • Stir occasionally.

Day 9

  • Drain cucumbers.
  • Slice cucumbers about 1/4-1/2" thick, depending on your preference, and place in a colander to continue draining.
  • Layer cucumbers in a large casserole dish, alternating layers of cucumbers and sugar.
  • Allow the cucumbers to soak in the sugar syrup for at least 24 hours before canning.

Days 10-12

  • I usually soak my pickles in the sugar syrup for about 3 days, but it doesn't have to be exact. I just want to make sure to give the syrup time to develop before I divide up the pickles into jars for canning. I use a water bath canning method so I can keep the pickles in my pantry for a year or two, until I need them. They don't always last that long because they are requested by friends and family!
  • If any of the cans do not seal, or if you don't want to bother canning, you can keep these in the fridge for a couple months.
Keyword pickles
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Pin this homemade sweet pickle recipe on Pinterest:

2 photo collage showing homemade pickle making; text overlay "Granny's Sweet Pickles"

 

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2 Comments

  1. I have a couple of questions: Are you using the syrup for the canning liquid? How long do you process them the canner and how much headspace?

    • Hi Ed, yes I use the syrup for my canning liquid. I try to avoid getting any undissolved sugar at the bottom and get as much of the liquid part as possible to fill the jars to 1/2″ headspace. I live near sea level, so I process 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Your time will depend on your elevation. Hope this helps!

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