Lucile's German Chunk Sweet Pickles

By Patricia Roberson (patrob) on July 25, 2010

In the late 1930's, my mother-in-law, Lucile Roberson, scribbled her recipe for German Chunk Sweet Pickles in the back of her Watkins cookbook. She was nearly eighty when Robert and I married. When we decided to plant a vegetable garden, she passed the well worn cookbook and the traditional pickle making to us. These pickles really are quick and easy to make, even though the process is spread over twelve days from start to finish. ----- Wait a minute! Come back! Please! You don't actually work on them every day! ---- When I was young, I thought twelve days was a ridiculous amount of time to wait for pickles, but I soon realized that my husband's pickles, made from his mother's recipe, always disappeared from the relish tray and my extra quick sweet pickles, made using pickling lime and green food coloring, were ignored by guests. Lucile's pickles are now the only sweet pickles we ever make.

Start through Day 3  
Start with fresh, blemish free pickling cucumbers about six inches long. Ten pounds or so makes a nice batch, about ten pints, but you can easily adjust the recipe for a larger or smaller batch of pickles.  

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Make a brine using 1 1/2 cups pickling salt (NOT table salt) for each gallon of water.

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If the water is salty enough, a raw egg will float. ----- No, don't crack the egg!  It will float better in its shell. -----  If the egg sinks and sits on the bottom, gradually stir in more salt until it does float.
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2010-07-24/patrob/4e6934 Place the cucumbers in a clean plastic or crock container and pour the brine over them making sure they are completely covered.


 
 2010-07-24/patrob/847647 Weight the cucumbers down with a jar of water and a plate or something similar and let them sit in the brine for three full days. ----  See, I told you this is easy! 
Temperature makes a big difference.  Keep the cucumbers in a comfortably cool room the entire twelve days.  We tried to make a batch once in a laundry room off the back porch.  It was too hot, and the cucumbers were a nasty, stinky mess in just a few days. 
Days 4 through 6
When the cucumbers have been brined for three full days, pour off the brine and rinse them well in cool water.  They won't look as fresh as when you started and will have some shriveled spots.  That's normal since the salt pulled out water to get them ready to absorb the pickling mixture.  2010-07-24/patrob/e70f04

Cover the cucumbers with cool fresh water and keep them submerged with the plate and jar of water.  

On Days 5 and 6, drain the cucumbers and cover with fresh cool water each day.  ---- I know having to change the water every day is beginning to seem like work, but it is very important.           
Days 7 through 9
Pour off the water and cut the cucumbers into the size chunks or slices that you prefer.  Return the cucumber chunks to the plastic or crock container.
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 Mix 4 cups vinegar, 8 cups water, and 4 teaspoons alum powder, which you can find in the spice section at the grocery.   Pour the vinegar and alum mixture over the cucumbers and allow them to sit for three days. -----  Another three days when the cucumbers just sit, and you don't even have to touch them!  This makes up for the three days when you had to change the water daily. -----
You may want to cover the container to contain the smell of the vinegar, but cover lightly and allow it to breathe a little. 

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Days 10 through 12
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In a large stainless steel pot*, bring to a boil 4 cups vinegar,cider or white, 6 cups sugar, and 3 teaspoons mixed pickling spices.  I don't have a spice ball, so I tie the spices in a piece of clean cotton cloth and remove them before I jar the pickles.

 
 2010-07-24/patrob/5590c4 Drain the cucumbers and add them to the boiling vinegar mixture.  As soon as the pot returns to a boil, turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot, and allow the cucumbers to sit in the pickling mixture until the next day.  
*If you have to use an aluminium pot, transfer the pickling mixture and cucumbers, as soon as they cool a little, to a plastic or crock container to sit until the next day.  This process will be a little messy, but you don't want the vinegar mixture to react with the aluminum.    
 

On Day 11 bring the mixture to a boil and turn off the heat again.

On Day 12 you will have to spend a little time finishing up your pickles.  But with the finish line in sight, it will be fun! 
Wash your jars in hot soapy water and rinse them well.  Sterilize them in a pot of boiling water or place them in the oven at 250 degrees for at least 20 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the jars in there until time to fill them with pickles. You'll need a pair of tongs or pot holders to pick up the hot jars.
 2010-07-25/patrob/6d47f4
 2010-07-25/patrob/34967a  Sterilize the lids, rubber ring facing up, in a pan of simmering water on the stovetop for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let them sit in the hot water until you need them.  
 

Bring the pickles to a boil and let them boil at least 5 minutes to make sure they are heated thoroughly.  Remove and discard the spice packet. 

Keep the pickles simmering.  Take hot jars out of the oven one or two at a time.  Fill jars to within 1/2" of the top.  Wipe the rim.  Place a lid on each jar as soon as you fill it and secure it with a jar ring.  If the pickles are not hot enough when the lid goes on, they will not seal. 

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Set the jars on a heat proof surface to cool.  In just a little while, you'll start hearing the "ping" of jars sealing.  Don't be tempted to help them by pressing the lids down in the center!  A jar "encouraged" to seal can unseal in storage and spoil.       

The next day check to make sure all jars have sealed, wash the outsides of the jars, and store your pickles.  If you have a jar that did not seal, you can refrigerate it and start enjoying your pickles or reheat the pickles and try again.  I always use a different jar and lid if I try to seal a second time just in case there is a slight flaw in either that I did not see.

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Make lots of these pickles because once your friends and family have tasted them, you too will be expected to take a jar or two with you to holiday dinners!  

 

 

 

About Patricia Roberson
I started cooking when I was twelve and Mother was busy taking college classes. I found that reading carefully and following the instructions were all it took to prepare good food. There were a few disasters, of course, but far more successes. I became the family's grocery shopper and primary cook by the time I was in high school. My little sister said she would have starved after I graduated from college and left home except for the Char-King hamburger drive-in a few blocks away.

I am retired after nearly forty years as a high school counselor and English and Spanish teacher. My husband and I recently downsized to a small ranch where we keep my horse and continue to raise beef cattle on a smaller scale. We are owned by five cats that let us live with them and several feral cats at the ranch that meet us for breakfast every morning. I still enjoy cooking, but I am more likely to look for a quick and easy recipe now!

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Fond Memories ravenbard Jun 1, 2013 2:35 PM 7
Brining pickles Crista Jun 27, 2011 10:17 AM 19
Need this is a printable version paulgrow Jul 26, 2010 4:11 PM 4

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