Monday, August 22, 2011

Aunt Ella's Cucumber Chip Pickles

I'm pleased to say that I have been able to squeeze out a few jars of pickles from my hoop house cucumbers. Having never successfully grown cukes in San Francisco, I am beside myself with glee that I have put up a whole four jars of pickles. There should be plenty more to come if the powdery mildew stays at bay.

Every year, my great aunt Ella would make thickly sliced sweet pickles for her husband Walter, brother to my grandfather and fellow dairy farming Swiss immigrant. Apparently, uncle Walter couldn't live without them. My mother would occasionally spend a week with Ella and Walter during the summer. On one of her visits, she learned to make these relish tray delights.

Aunt Ella's Cucumber Chip Pickles

Put 12-15 large, whole cucumbers in a crock. Pour boiling water over them every day for three days. Drain each day before adding new batch of boiling water.

On the fourth day, slice cucumbers into 1/2" thick slices and pour over them a boiling syrup made of
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. pickling spices

Let stand two days. Drain syrup and bring to a boil. Pack jars with cucumber slices and pour boiling syrup over cukes. Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

I know the five day thing sounds like a chore, but these pickles are really very simple to make.  Don't let the lengthy soaking time dissuade you from trying to whip up a batch. What I love most about these pickles is that they remain crunchy due to the thick slices. They are super tasty too, but then I've always been a sucker for a sweet pickle.

A few years back, my mother made a book for me and my siblings with all of my grandmother's favorite recipes. The cucumber chip pickle was among them. Not only does the recipe book catalog the things my grammy liked to cook, it also contains little remembrances and thoughts that my mother included. I especially like what my mother had to say after Aunt Ella's pickle recipe.
There is really nothing that compares to a homemade pickle. I think it is a lost art. Most of us are too busy to garden, much less can or preserve the produce. I stopped in 1978 or 1979 - just got too busy with the activities of kids. I have started to make the lime sweets again - out of desperation to make good potato salad, egg salad, etc.

I love you mom. Thank you for all that you've passed on to me, particularly the ability to make a decent pickle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. I love you too...and am very proud of your work. I got lost somewhere along the line as I said in my 'memory' cookbook in the busyness of life and forgot to take time for the things that are important - like feeding a family with wholesome goodness from our own earth.

  2. Thank you! I've been on the hunt for a good sweet pickle recipe that I can turn into a sweet and hot recipe. The last one was, in my opinion, a complete failure due to sitting in a brine for too long resulting in the saltiest damn pickle you'll ever eat. Tom apparently loves them though.

  3. Ooooh, this sounds wonderful! What a great family recipe. I love pickles!

  4. I've got to try your recipe, as I have extra cucumbers from a friend's garden in Martinez. I doubt we could grow them here in Oakland. It has been too chilly this summer.