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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Luvey's Eight Day Sweet Pickle Chips

This recipe looks complex, but it really isn't. I'm sorry I don't have more photos, but I'm still hunting down pickling cucumbers this year. These are pictures of last year's pickles.

This is a pickle like nothing else you've ever tasted. The most heavenly, crisp, sweet and tangy pickle chip you could ask for. Best ice cold. Perfect chopped in tuna or egg salad. Or potato salad. Or remoulade. Or layered in a ham sandwich.

Luvey worked for my Grandmother Mary from the time I can remember. When my grandmother died at 103 or so (can no longer remember exactly as she lied about her age for years,) Luvey was still alive, but failing. She was a tall, charming woman from South Carolina, who went on cruises and saw the world after she semi-retired late in her 70s.

Luvey came to the house three days a week. She cleaned and ironed and polished everything. She ran the vacuum, did the laundry. She loved my Grandmother. She sat down and had lunch with Mary every day she worked. A lunch of hard boiled eggs or sardines, mustard, pickles, thin sliced pumpernickle bread, toasted, and a piece of fruit. Or some leftover roast meal reheated and reimagined as a sandwich, again served with pickles and mustard. And reheated coffee. (ack)

Until I found this recipe on a card in Mary's recipe stack (I've got Bea's and Jan's as well, so many cards to get through!) I didn't realize these pickles were a recipe of Luvey's. I remembered their tang and snap, and made two batches last summer. They are best made with early, small, just-picked, pickling cukes.

You'll need some equipment to make these pickles.

10 pounds of cucumbers, very fresh

Alum - a natural product that crisps the pickle - in many grocery store spice racks

Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt


Pickling Spices - My recipe follows, and makes about 1/3 cup. I found it at some point somewhere on the interwebs and apologize for not being able to recreate the link and give proper credit.

A large crock or glass jar. I like having a lid, but you can always use plastic wrap and a rubber band. I've made these pickles in large flower vases. Adjust the quantity you make depending on the size of your pantry. I'm giving you the process for 10 lbs. of cucumbers, which produces 6 or 7 pints of pickles. Or 3 to 4 quarts. The jars are not processed, so you can use any old glass jars of any sort, as long as they have a lid and they have been sterilized. I like to use old fashioned glass canning jars for this pickle. Running the jars through a hot dishwasher is suitable sterilizing.

A pot large enough to boil 4-8 quarts of water. The bigger the better.

Day One:
Slice cucumbers - do not peel - into 1/4" slices. A mandolin is very useful. Place the slices in the crock and cover with 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Two:
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with a brine of 1-1/2 c salt dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Three:
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with an alum mixture, 3 T Alum dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Four:
Drain the cucumbers and cover with 4 quarts of cider vinegar heated wtih 1/4 c pickling spice.

Day Five, Six and Seven:
Allow the pickles to cure, covered, in a cool spot.

Day Eight:
Drain the cucumber slices. They will be surprisingly crisp. But they are not done yet. Put the drained slices in a large (really large) bowl. Dump 4 cups of sugar over the pickle chips and toss well, coating all the slices. The sugar will draw out pickle juice and makes a syrup. Magic.

Divide the chips into your jars and scrape the sugar left over into the jars.

Cover and allow the jars to sit for a couple of days before tasting. Turn the jars over every day.

Chill well before tasting. Cold, they are absolutely amazing.

I know. Delayed gratification. It's going to be a few days. But these are crazy good pickles.

Pickling Spice
(if you want to make your own)
1 tsp galangal
1 T allspice
3 cloves
2 tsp coriander seed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T mustard seed
2" cinnamon stick
Combine well. Crush stick and seeds a little. Store in a jar for one pickling season.


Sunchowder said...

These look amazing!

Allison at Novice Life said...

Yum! I can't wait for my pickling cucs to harvest! This recipe is on my list!!

Liz the Chef said...

I love the image of you making pickles in a large flower vase! The recipe looks great - hope I can find alum...

Spice Rack said...

Pickle Spices creates harmony and balance to your dishes. Remember always store a pickle spice in your spice rack. It will make things a lot more easier for you.

Holly Keegan said...

My "granny" used to make sweet pickles when I was young. I adored these pickles. Every time I saw her we had a snack of saltine crackers topped with deli american cheese and her sweet pickles. I still have this snack today but it isn't the same without her pickles.

wendy said...

I'm on day five!! Just want to check that when you say "drain," I don't also rinse?

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Hi Wendy. I"m so happy you're trying these pickles and can't wait to hear what you think. I really did mean drain, yes, not rinse. Happy pickling! - Cathy

wendy said...

So glad I didn't rinse, then! I will have just enough time to do the sugar step on the eighth day and then I leave town for a few days and will leave my husband with the job of turning the jars. We'll have pickles when I get back! Thanks!

wendy said...

I have pickles!! Thanks for this great recipe. I just want to check that I did it right because the liquid in each jar doesn't cover the top of the pickles...

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Yay! Wendy, it's funny, I was just thinking about your pickles yesterday, wondering how they came out. If the liquid doesn't cover, you can add more sugar to the jar, which will help create more liquid in the jar. I don't do that unless it's less than 1/2 full.

wendy said...

They are delicious! Had some for lunch with egg salad on pumpernickel with pea shoots and tomato. The liquid is about half way up - if that's OK/safe, I'd be happy to leave it that way as they taste great as is. thanks again.

Linda said...

Thank goodness for NPR or I might not have found this. I adore the old sweet pickle recipes. I have one from my mother and grandmother (Candy sweet pickles) that I supply to my clan. I'm going to try this next summer, but I have two questions. Can I use an enamel pot instead of a crock? Can I process the jars in a boiling water bath for longer/safer storage?

MrsWheelbarrow said...

I've only ever made these in glass, not enamel. I'm concerned about enamel because of leaching of the metal. These pickles don't needs to be processed - there is sufficient vinegar and sugar to make them shelf stable. The BWB method would cook the pickle, which would change the consistency.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank God for NPR. I just finished a trial recipe scaling down to 1.5 lbs of cucumbers and adjusting the rest as best I could. They are fantastic! I wesnt to the farmers market and got 5 lbs. more. What is galagel? I think I spelled it right. I left it out and can't say that it made a difference. Praise and thanks to "Luvey". Any more of her treasures available/

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Galangal is a ginger-like spice. If you don't have it, use ground ginger. I prefer galangal for it's vague floral undertone. I'm glad you like the pickles. I wish I had more of Luvey's recipes!