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How to Make Cucumber Sweet Pickle Sticks: An Illustrated Guide

Butterfly has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.

This is a two-gallon, old-fashioned pickling crock is just right for this project.

This is a two-gallon, old-fashioned pickling crock is just right for this project.

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Ingredients

  • Cucumbers, whole, pickling type (Any variety will work, but short, thick ones slice prettiest for this recipe.)
  • Boiling water, to cover

For the pickling solution:

  • 3 3/4 cups plain white vinegar
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salt, pickling or non-iodized (found in the pickle-making section of your local supermarket)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons celery seed, whole
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon mustard seed, whole

Equipment List

You will need:

  • A boiling waterbath or steam canner
  • Canning jars (quart size), with appropriate lids
  • Cake tin or saucepan, for scalding canning lids
  • Jar lifter
  • Tongs, or magnetic lid lifter
  • Vinegar (optional), for adding to canner water to avoid hard-water stains
  • Large pot, for boiling pickling solution
  • Large non-reactive crock or bowl, for soaking cucumbers
  • Large colander, for draining cucumbers
  • Ladle for solution
  • Clean, damp cloth(s), or paper towels, for wiping jar rims once they are filled with pickles
  • A clean towel and an out-of-the-way, heat resistant surface on which to set the jars once they are finished (we use a bath towel, as we often process many jars)

Quick Reference

  • Processing time: 5 minutes (after a full, rolling boil is reached)
  • Overall time per full canner load: 6 hours (from preparing fresh cucumbers to emptying canner)
  • Jar size: Quarts, either wide or regular mouth
  • Headspace: 1/2-inch headspace
  • Storage term: 1+ years normally (depends on storage conditions, such as humidity)

Step 1: Prepare Cucumbers

  1. Select pickling cucumbers for this recipe, which are shorter and broader than their slicing counterparts. They should be free of blemishes, and firm. Large seed cavities are undesirable.
  2. Wash whole, uncut cucumbers, scrubbing gently if necessary, to free them of sand or soil, insect residue, and other debris.
  3. Heat boiling water, enough to completely cover fruits when sliced into sticks or spears, and soak for 4 to 5 hours in a pickling crock or large, non-reactive bowl.

Step 1: Photo Guide

Gently scrub fresh, firm cucumbers (for best quality, pick early in the morning). Select only those with no signs of deterioration or bruising.

Gently scrub fresh, firm cucumbers (for best quality, pick early in the morning). Select only those with no signs of deterioration or bruising.

Heat drinking water to boiling--just enough to cover sliced cucumbers.

Heat drinking water to boiling--just enough to cover sliced cucumbers.

Slice cucumbers lengthwise into a suitably sized crock, or a large, non-reactive mixing bowl.

Slice cucumbers lengthwise into a suitably sized crock, or a large, non-reactive mixing bowl.

Pour boiling water over cucumber sticks to cover completely. This crock will soak enough pickle sticks for about seven quarts.

Pour boiling water over cucumber sticks to cover completely. This crock will soak enough pickle sticks for about seven quarts.

Cover the cucumber sticks with a plate and weight them down--they will try to float on top of the water if you don't. Soak 4-5 hours.

Cover the cucumber sticks with a plate and weight them down--they will try to float on top of the water if you don't. Soak 4-5 hours.

Step 2: Prepare Jars and Canning Equipment

  1. Put on the waterbath or steam canner to boil, filled about halfway with clean water for a full load of 7 jars. Add a splash of vinegar to help prevent mineral build-up on jars and canner.
  2. Select only proper, brand-name canning jars. (Quarts with wide mouths work best for this project.) Inspect each jar for chips, cracks, or other weaknesses. (A regular jar, such as a commercial pickle jar, is designed to be used only once under such heated conditions.)
  3. Wash each jar thoroughly in hot, soapy water, paying special attention to the threads around the top, and the bottoms of the jars on the inside, especially if they have been used before. You may also prepare them in an automatic dishwasher, or by sterilizing in an oven. 200° F. for 20 minutes per batch is a general rule. If your jars have been stored in a basement or outbuilding in which vermin have been allowed to run, you would be wise to soak them in water to which a bit of chlorine has been added.
  4. Set the jars aside to dry.
  5. Have ready the number or rings and lids you estimate you will need, and wash them. To wash and scald the lids: Place the lids in a small pan (a layer cake pan works well), and pour boiling water over them to scald them. Leave them in the water until you are ready to put them on the jars.

Step 2: Photo Guide

While cucumbers are soaking, wash or sterilizing jars. Examine them: jars must be free of chips and cracks, rings of bending or excessive rust, and lids of misaligned rubber. Heat boiling waterbath or steam canner about half full of water.

While cucumbers are soaking, wash or sterilizing jars. Examine them: jars must be free of chips and cracks, rings of bending or excessive rust, and lids of misaligned rubber. Heat boiling waterbath or steam canner about half full of water.

Gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, in order to scald them.

Gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, in order to scald them.

Step 3: Prepare Pickling Solution and Pack Jars

  1. In a small stock pot or large saucepan, prepare the pickling solution, and boil it for 5 minutes to set and blend flavors.
  2. Meanwhile, drain cucumber sticks in a large colander. You may need to drain them in batches, transferring them to a bowl or roasting pan as you go.
  3. Gently place cucumbers in jars until they are comfortably tight.
  4. Once the solution has been sufficiently boiled, ladle it over cucumbers to within a 1/2-inch of the rims. This measurement is called the required headspace, and allows the product to expand during boiling.
  5. Set aside each jar, dribbles and all, and proceed to fill the remainder, or as many as your canner will hold (usually seven).
  6. With a very clean, damp cloth or paper towel, wipe each jar's rim, and any dribbles down its sides.
  7. Using the tongs or magnetic lid lifter, lift one lid at a time from the pan of hot or simmering water, and place it on the jar without touching the lid with your hands, if you can help it. Adjust two-piece caps*, screwing the bands on finger-tight. This will allow for proper expansion during processing.
  8. When all jars or a full 7 have been filled, place them in the canner. You may put them in one at a time, using a jar lifter, or you may place them in all together, lifting the whole canner rack. Beware of boiling water splashes and steam burns!

*Or your choice of tight-sealing lids, and set aside.

Step 3: Photo Guide

Drain water off cucumber sticks.

Drain water off cucumber sticks.

Set them in a large container (in this case, a roasting pan) which will be easy to reach into to grab small handfuls.

Set them in a large container (in this case, a roasting pan) which will be easy to reach into to grab small handfuls.

Mix up solution (see note above to determine quantity). Boil 5 minutes.

Mix up solution (see note above to determine quantity). Boil 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pack cucumber sticks into clean jars. Pack tightly, but don't crush. They will shrink some when heated.

Meanwhile, pack cucumber sticks into clean jars. Pack tightly, but don't crush. They will shrink some when heated.

If you have a great many pickles to pack, or lack a roasting pan, laying them out on a bath towel may be helpful.

If you have a great many pickles to pack, or lack a roasting pan, laying them out on a bath towel may be helpful.

Ladle hot solution over cucumbers, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rim of jar with clean, damp cloth or paper towel.

Ladle hot solution over cucumbers, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rim of jar with clean, damp cloth or paper towel.

Place lid on jar, and screw on band firmly, but not terribly tight. Putting it on too tightly may cause a failure to seal, as it will bend the lid.

Place lid on jar, and screw on band firmly, but not terribly tight. Putting it on too tightly may cause a failure to seal, as it will bend the lid.

Place jars into canner rack, or set aside to be placed individually in canner.

Place jars into canner rack, or set aside to be placed individually in canner.

Step 4: Process and Cool Pickles

  1. Once all jars have been placed in canner, wait for it to reach a full, rolling boil, then begin timing 5 minutes. Boil each load a fill 5 minutes. Immediately remove jars to their resting area, using a jar lifter and holding a pot holder or hand towel underneath each jar to catch drips.
  2. Set them on a towel or board in a draft-free area, and allow them to sit still several hours or overnight, until they are cooled throughout. Check lids for a good seal (there should be no "give", and they should be sucked down). You will probably hear the lids "ping" as the milk cools, and pressure changes in the jars. Any that have not sealed may be refrigerated and used within a couple days. Alternatively, you may wipe the jar rims very carefully, replace the lids with new ones, and reprocess them . . . but if you've been careful in the first place, you'll seldom have a jar fail to seal.

Step 4: Photo Guide

Gently place rack with jars into canner - beware of splashing hot water!

Gently place rack with jars into canner - beware of splashing hot water!

Water should cover jars by about one inch. Put on lid, wait for water to return to a full boil, and process pickles 5 minutes.

Water should cover jars by about one inch. Put on lid, wait for water to return to a full boil, and process pickles 5 minutes.

Lift jars out carefully, and set on a towel or board away from drafts.

Lift jars out carefully, and set on a towel or board away from drafts.

Let sit overnight. Jars often "pop" or "ping" as they seal. Wash outsides of jars with mild, soapy water to remove any hard water stains or pickling residues.

Let sit overnight. Jars often "pop" or "ping" as they seal. Wash outsides of jars with mild, soapy water to remove any hard water stains or pickling residues.

Cleanup

  1. You will need to scrub your jars and canner in hot, soapy water, once they are quite cool. (Jars should sit several hours, or overnight, in a draft-free area.) Thoroughly wash all other equipment as well.
  2. You may wish to remove the rings from your jars and wash the threads well. (Some people prefer to store jars without rings, so they know more easily whether a jar has come unsealed and begun to spoil.) You definitely don't wish to attract vermin with sticky jars.

How to Store Home-Canned Products

  • Home-canned products like cool—but not cold—environments, with even temperatures. An underground cellar or unheated basement is ideal.
  • Any severe temperature change in the atmosphere will cause the pressure in the jars to change, and may make them come unsealed. If this happens, you will have spoiled food in your storage.
  • It is a good idea to check your jars periodically, even if you have no serious doubts about their environment. You may not be able to avert a problem entirely, but you may be able to head it off before it blooms into a disaster.

Still Have Lots of Cucumbers? Try Cucumber Kimchi

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Joilene Rasmussen

Comments

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on November 14, 2013:

I'm happy to please! Thanks for enjoying.

Jason Matthews from North Carolina on November 13, 2013:

Great recipe. Your pictures help to make all the steps so clear! Thanks for sharing!

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on August 19, 2011:

Patricia, I'd give them at least three weeks, and six would be better.

Patricia on August 16, 2011:

I made these this morning. Could u tell me when they will be ready to eat.Thanks for the recipe i looked for a long time for one.