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I have never said no to a pickle. I earn that honestly from my Grandma Conrad. She loved pickles and would always make a “pickle plate” for any event. Her plates of pickles were not just a dill or bread and butter. No, they included sweet, lime, cinnamon, and other various pickled vegetables. Her attention to detail always impressed me. If I would swing by during cucumber season, her house always smelled of a sweet and tangy brine. Upon walking in, she would immediately ask me to taste a few different pickles and give my thoughts. Sometimes the only change was a teaspoon or two of salt. To her, that could make all the difference in the balance of a good pickle. She was right.
There are two types of pickles
Let’s go over the two types of pickles and what defines each one:
- Canned pickles are often made with slices or spears of raw cucumber packed into canning jars with a hot vinegar brine poured over the top. Sealing lids and rings are added followed by a variable amount of cooking time in a hot water bath. After a few weeks, they’re ready to eat and are shelf-stable for at least one year.
- Fermented pickles are an earlier form of preserving. The cucumbers are cleaned, often soaked in salt water for 24 hours, and then placed in a crock or fermentation vessel. It’s important to note that no vinegar is used in fermentation. A brine of water, salt, spices, and sugar (at times) is poured on top of the cucumbers. Over the coming days, the cucumbers ferment with the brine and create flavor. The brine needs to completely cover the cucumbers to prevent spoilage. After a certain amount of days, when the pickles gain the desired flavor, they’re jarred up and kept in the refrigerator at a stable state for at least one year.
What type of pickle are mustard pickles?
These mustard pickles are a fermented pickle. Classic pickling spices flavor the brine with an added boost of mustard powder. Now, it’s not a strong or astringent mustard flavor. Nope, just the right amount of balance, which Granda tested and perfected over her years of experimentation.
The unique part of this recipe is the sugar added daily for seven days, making these a seven-day pickle. The sugar sweetens these but not to the point that you would assume. Instead of becoming a sweet pickle, much of the sugar is “eaten” in the fermentation process by good bacteria in the brine.
The result is a perfectly balanced pickle with an amazing sweet and tangy flavor.
Watch how to make these mustard pickles:
How to Make Mustard Pickles
- 8 lb small cucumbers (1" to 3" in length) cleaned
- 1 gal water
- 1 cup canning salt
- 4 cups sugar separated
For the brine
- ½ gal vinegar
- 4 tbsp ground mustard
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp pickling spices
- Mix together the water and salt until the salt is dissolved. Pour the water mixture over the cucumbers. Weigh down with a plate to ensure all cucumbers are covered. Soak for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, remove cucumbers from soaking liquid and rinse.
- Place in a large 3- to 4-gallon crock or glass container.
- Prepare the brine.
For the brine
- Combine the vinegar, ground mustard, sugar, salt, and pickling spices. Stir to combine and dissolve sugar and salt.
- Pour over the prepared cucumbers.
- Weigh down the cucumbers with a plate and jar of water to ensure all cucumbers are covered with liquid.
For next 8 days
- Daily, remove the pickles and add ½ cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. Return the pickles to the liquid and weigh them down.
- After the 8th day, leave the pickles in the crock for 1 week.
- Put the pickles in quart jars. Strain the brine and pour over pickles in jars, covering pickles. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.