Thursday, August 25, 2011

In a Pickle

Corn relish, sweet chunk pickles, and bread and butter pickles.
The chickens have really been benefiting from my canning jag lately. Shelves full of jellies, jams, pickles, and relishes mean that the chickens get leftovers... past-their-prime strawberries, those few cucumbers that don't make the cut, or the cobs of corn that I've mostly scraped clean. No wonder they come running every time I open the door.

This week, it's been pickle-palooza at our house. Bread and butter pickles, spicy sweet pickles, and sweet chunks. 

Sweet Chunk Pickles, Day 4
Right now, there's a 2-gallon crock sitting on the counter with a batch of sweet chunks in process. It's a recipe that my husband's family introduced me to, handed down from his grandmother. They are just about the best sweet chunks I've ever had, and I've seen similar pickles called "Virginia Sweet Chunks." They tend to be passed slowly around the table at holidays, occasionally hanging up at my daughter's plate, where I have to remind her that pickles are a condiment, not a main dish.

If you're looking for quick pickles, these won't fit the bill--they take a full six days to make--but they are worth the extra time.

Sweet Chunk Pickles
Gather a little less than 2 gallons pickling cucumbers--about 20-30 depending on size (small cukes work best. The big ones go to the chickens!)
Day 1: Rub cucumbers with coarse salt to clean, then rinse. For crisper cucumbers, slice off blossom end of cucumber. Place whole cucumbers in a 2-gallon crock. Fill crock with enough boiling water to cover the tops of the cucumbers. Cover crock with plate.
Day 2: Drain, then refill with boiling water to cover. Keep plate in place as a lid.
Day 3: Drain, then refill with boiling water to cover. Keep plate in place as a lid.
Day 4: Drain and rinse cucumbers. Cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices, return to crock. Combine the following ingredients in a large pot:
1 qt. cider vinegar
8 c. sugar (we've reduced to 6 and find the pickles are still plenty sweet)
2 T. canning salt
1 T. whole cloves
2 T. pickling spice
2 sticks of cinnamon, broken into pieces
Bring to a boil, then pour syrup over sliced cucumbers and replace plate as lid.
Day 5: Drain syrup from crock into large pot, bring syrup to a boil, pour over cucumbers, replace lid.
Day 6: Place cucumbers and syrup in large pot, bring to a boil. Add several drops of green food coloring if desired. Fill sterilized, hot pint jars leaving about 1/2-inch head space, wipe rims, adjust lids, and tighten rings. Process in hot-water bath 10 minutes, remove from canner and allow to cool. Check to make sure jars have sealed. Be sure to follow safe canning practices and process for your altitude.


  1. Hi, Debbie, I'm a chicken lover, too... When the boys were young we had a silkie named Sunny. She was a sweetie.
    PS-My sister,Jenny, told me about your blog. I'm loving it!

  2. Hi Caroline -- How good to hear from you! Silkies always look so glamorous :-) I'll have to tell my daughters you had a nice one. I think they'd like to bring one home some day when we need to add to the flock. Thanks for your kind words. -- Debbie