Spicy Pickles

15 Dec


I love spicy foods. Not the tear your head off, how hot can you make it sort of spicy, but a good solid heat. I also love the balance of sweet and spicy, which is why I find these pickles to be positively addictive. I often have a jar of them open when I’m cooking, and just snack on one occasionally. They’re also fabulous on pulled pork.

The first step is to slice all of your cucumbers and onions and put them with water and pickling salt in a large, nonreactive bowl for 2 hours. This draws moisture out of the cucumber so it will result in a crisper pickle. Oh, and the reason you’re seeing such huge quantities is that I’m making a quadruple-sized batch for Christmas gifts. Normally a simple stockpot or lage bowl would suffice.


After 2 hours, rinse the cucumbers and onions thoroughly, then drain them and set them aside. Now, it’s time to make the brine. First, take the garlic, red peppers, and habaneros, and puree them in a food processor. I like doing this because it makes sure the heat is very finely distributed among all the pickles. You could also chop everything very fine, but I prefer to avoid direct chopping of habaneros if at all possible. Add the vinegars, tumeric, sugar, mustard seed, cloves, and pepper/garlic puree to a large stockpot, and bring to a boil.


Once the brine is at a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.


Now to can the pickles. Fill hot, sterilized pint-sized jars with the pickles, and add enough brine to come to 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe clean and add rings and lids, then process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Now the hard part: wait 2 weeks before opening them for the flavors to develop.


Spicy Pickles
adapted from


  • 3 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 10 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic
  • 24 dried cayenne peppers or other small, red pepper
  • 4 dried habaneros
  • 2 teaspoons 100 percent Natural Pickle Crisp, optional


Place cucumbers, onions, pickling salt, and water in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cover and allow cucumbers to soak for 2 hours. Drain the water from the onions and cucumbers through a colander and rinse well for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Puree or finely dice garlic and peppers. Combine the vinegars, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves, garlic, and peppers in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a simmer and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Fill each of the hot sterilized pint-size preserving jars with the pickle mixture, dividing them evenly, and enough of the liquid to come within 1/2-inch of the top. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Natural Pickle Crisp to each jar, if desired. With a clean damp towel, wipe the rim and fit with a hot lid. Screw on the metal ring just until the point of resistance is met. Process the jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the jars, place on a towel, and let cool. Test the seals by allowing the jars to stand at room temperature overnight or until the lids pop. Tighten the rings and store in a cool dry place. Let the pickles age for at least 2 weeks before using.

* Sterilizing Jars

Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.


Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two-piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum-seal when processed.

To sterilize jars before filling with jams, pickles or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.

Use tongs when handling hot sterilized jars, to move them from boiling water. Be sure tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.

As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.


Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Appetizer/Snack, Canning


Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Spicy Pickles

  1. Nicole

    December 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I love pickles. Are these the same ones that you gave to Phil a while back? Those were really good!

    • Cooking Madly

      December 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      They are. I might have a spare jar around if you’d like me to drop one off. Sadly, not all of my friends can appreciate spicy the way we do.


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Cooking Madly

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