Pickle & Preserve

Seven Day Sweets (Luvey's Sweet Pickles)

June  9, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 3 pints
Author Notes

For years now, I’ve made a sweet, tangy pickle I named for my Grandmother’s housekeeper, Luvey, who brought us an ice cold jar or two every summer. Lunches of hard boiled eggs and sweet pickles were a favorite after gardening or running through the sprinkler. —MrsWheelbarrow

What You'll Need
  • 2.5 pounds Kirby or pickling cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher or pickling salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons Alum, a naturally occurring mineral that crisps the pickle
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice tied in a cheesecloth bundle or tucked into a stainless steel tea ball
  • 1 cup white sugar
  1. Day One Soak the cucumbers in ice cold water for 30 minutes. Drain the water and scrub the cucumbers well to dislodge any remaining dirt. Slice a small amount off each end of the cucumber, then slice into ½” slices. A mandolin is useful, but not necessary. Pack the slices into a half gallon jar or two quart jars. Cover with boiling water. Cover the jar and let it sit overnight on the counter.
  2. Day Two Drain the water away. Do not rinse. Dissolve the salt in one quart of boiling water. Pour the salted water over the cucumber slices while still warm. Cover and let it sit out overnight.
  3. Day Three. Drain the water away. Do not rinse. Add the alum to one quart of boiling water. Pour the alum water over the cucumber slices while still warm.
  4. Day Four. Drain the water away. Bring the cider vinegar to a boil. Tuck the pickling spice sachet into the jar with the pickles and pour the warm vinegar over the pickles. Cover and let the pickles brine for three days.
  5. Day Five and Six Gaze longingly at your pickles to be.
  6. Day Seven. Drain the pickles, reserving ½ cup of the vinegar. Dispose of the spices. Place the pickles in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the pickles and add back the vinegar. Cover and set aside for one hour. Pack the pickles into pint jars and scrape all the sugar and syrup over them. Cap the jars and set aside. Turn the jars over every day for a few days, as the sugar draws liquid out of the pickles to make a syrup, then store in the cupboard. There is no need to process them in a boiling water bath.
  7. Chill the pickles well before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kathleen McLain
    Kathleen McLain
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  • Svea Ruth Liljestrand
    Svea Ruth Liljestrand
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    Lori Donivan-Files
  • MrsWheelbarrow
My new book, PIE SQUARED. Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies is available for preorder and on shelves October, 2018.

46 Reviews

Carol July 19, 2015
Mmm...I'm making my third batch and these are delish! A real vinegar bite at the end, but the spices are so good. I have enough cukes every few days for a new batch and everyone seems to love these so I'll just keep making them! Can't wait to try them in salads, etc. so far we are just eating them out of the jar.
Nancy July 20, 2014
The water does not cover the pickles. Should I add enough water to cover, and if so, should I add a commensurate amount of salt, sugar and alum?
MrsWheelbarrow July 20, 2014
Place a plate or something weighty on top of the cucumber slices to compress them enough to put them under water. If that doesn't work, you will need to build additional brine with the same ratio as the original.
Donna V. September 24, 2013
OMG I can hardly wait. I just did day 7 added my sugar & I can smell the spices. This is only the 2nd time I've canned pickles and the 1st time it wasn't to good
MrsWheelbarrow September 24, 2013
That's so great!
Kathleen M. September 9, 2013
Hi, I'm wondering about canning the pickles. You said no they don't need to be processed. Will the jars seal without the boiling water bath.
MrsWheelbarrow September 9, 2013
The jars do not seal without the water bath. They are shelf stable without processing, but you can process them for five minutes in a water bath if you wish.
AntoniaJames August 30, 2013
MrsW, what is your favorite (homemade) pickling spice formula for these pickles? Have some gorgeous Kirbies (from today's farmers' market -- their blossoms were still fresh looking!) soaking in cold water now . . . . Thank you. ;o)
MrsWheelbarrow August 30, 2013
I am so jealous. Cucumber wilt is killing all the vines out here. Sigh. Here is my blend:
1 teaspoon ground galangal
1 Tablespoon allspice berries
4 whole cloves
1 Tablespoon coriander seed
2 bay leaves crushed
1.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoon yellow mustard seed
3? cinnamon stick, crushed
MrsWheelbarrow August 30, 2013
The red pepper is optional, but I like it.
AntoniaJames August 30, 2013
Wow, thanks for the lightning fast reply! I always use fresh galangal, so I haven't any dried on hand. Would a thin slice of the fresh in each jar work instead? Thanks again. ;o)
MrsWheelbarrow August 30, 2013
Substitute ground ginger, if you have that. I make this spice mix in quantity, so never considered fresh galangal or ginger. I'm not sure of ratio, but why not? LMK what you learn.
AntoniaJames August 28, 2013
Any reason not to use Korean cucumbers to make these pickles? The ones at my local Korean grocer are so fresh, juicy and flavorful. The skin is a bit thinner than Persians or Kirbys, but oh, they taste so good! I'm about to embark on this project Friday night . . . . Thank you. ;o)
MrsWheelbarrow August 28, 2013
AJ, I've had very unsatisfactory results with Persian cucumbers, so will be interested in how it works with the Korean cukes!
AntoniaJames August 28, 2013
I'll do a "small" batch (3 or 4 pounds), and let you know! Thanks for the prompt reply. ;o) P.S. Now, if I could just find a decent watermelon with a nice thick rind on it . . . .
Horto May 4, 2014
I have been looking for a good pickled watermelon recipe, do you have one?
Svea R. August 23, 2013
I found Alum(made by McCormick), in the spice isle, at my grocery store. It's a small round jar.
AntoniaJames August 23, 2013
It's kind of a commodity item (i.e., not particularly interesting and not susceptible to product differentiation or higher margin product "spins") so it tends to be on the lower or bottom shelf in the grocery stores around here. I had my doubts when I first bought the stuff, worrying that it might give the pickles a "store bought" taste, but I did not notice it at all. These pickles are so good! ;o)
Jillian August 14, 2013
I couldn't find "alum" at the grocery store will calcium cloride work?
MrsWheelbarrow August 14, 2013
Alum and calcium chloride are two very different substances. I've never used calcium chloride and don't know how or if it would work.
AmandaO August 13, 2013
The alum is for firmness? I am not concerned about alum; I just don't have any. The USDA no longer recommends its use, I think? Is the alum step necessary for the safety of the pickles?
MrsWheelbarrow August 13, 2013
The alum is a crisping agent. Someone used black tea (see earlier comments) and it worked well.
AmandaO August 13, 2013
Thanks, Cathy! I am so excited about these pickes. I don't see the black tea comment, I'll look on the recipe.
MrsWheelbarrow August 13, 2013
Hi Amanda, I'm not sure about lime or pickle crisp - follow the directions on the package. I've been making these pickles for decades, literally, with alum.
aJ August 12, 2013
is there a similar recipe for non-sweet pickles? Thanks!
MrsWheelbarrow August 13, 2013
I wish! No, this recipe is just for sweet pickles.
Chellarella August 11, 2013
What do you cover the jar with on day one?
MrsWheelbarrow August 11, 2013
If the jar has a cover, use that, or cover with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel.
sadzo August 6, 2013
When adding liquid, after boiled-you say add while still warm. Is the liquid added immediately-or does it have to cool for a few minutes?
MrsWheelbarrow August 6, 2013
Add the liquid right away. That little bit of "cooking" is what makes the pickles perfect.
Lori D. July 30, 2013
Not Understanding the juice when you go to put them in jars. There isn't enough to cover the pickles. Can you explain? thanks
MrsWheelbarrow July 30, 2013
Pack the pickles in the jars snugly. Turn the jars over every day for a week or so. The sugar draws liquid out of the pickles and makes more syrup. By the end of a few days, the pickles should be submerged.
Lori D. July 30, 2013
Lori D. July 23, 2013
Do you rinse them on day four? To rinse the alum off?
Cathy B. July 24, 2013
No, you don't rinse them.
AmandaO August 13, 2013
But if you use lime or pickle crisp (calcium?), you do have to wash it off?
Holmestead F. July 15, 2013
Just wondering if on day four I should rinse the cukes after draining. My recollection is that alum needs to be rinsed off?
Sterling July 10, 2013
great - thanks very much
Sterling July 10, 2013
how long do they keep?
MrsWheelbarrow July 10, 2013
A year
Snigdha July 6, 2013
Hello Mrs Wheelbarrow,
What is in the pickling spice mix and what are the quantities, please?
Many thanks
Snigdha (Snig of Snig's Kitchen)
MrsWheelbarrow July 6, 2013
Pickling spice is widely available in the grocery store. I prefer to make my own. You'll find the recipe on my blog. mrswheelbarrow.com
Snigdha July 8, 2013
Hello Mrs Wheelbarrow,
Thanks for your reply. I will check your recipe out. I always prefer to make my own spice mixes rather than buy them in. My only exception is garam masala, but that is because I don't have the time or inclination to roast them all and grind them in large quantities. Call me lazy, I don't mind!
Thanks again!
Snigdha (Snig of Snig's Kitchen)
AntoniaJames June 11, 2013
I made twelve pints of these last year, having found the recipe on your blog. They are outstanding! Everyone loves them. At first I thought, "How on earth are we going to get through all of these?" Ten months later, I'm planning another batch, of the same size. These are particularly good chopped into egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad, etc. And of course, they're excellent on any sandwich. I make a wonderful salad dressing using them as well. The best pickles. Ever. So glad you posted this here! ;o)
MrsWheelbarrow June 11, 2013
Thank you so much! I love them in egg salad, too.
Jillian August 14, 2013
Can u share the dressing recipe?