Wondering how to make crispy, rich, and delicious sweet pickles for canning? If you've never tried canning pickles before, you may be surprised how delicious sweet pickle spears can be in this sweet and spicy recipe!
This recipe was an instant winner for us and I bet that once you taste it, you'll be adding this sweet pickle recipe to your personal collection too!
We love sweet pickles around here. They were a classic snack around my house growing up and we also enjoyed them in mom's hearty homemade chicken salad!
About 10 years ago we stopped buying our sweet pickles from the store and started canning sweet pickles at home with this sweet pickle recipe that creates perfectly crisp sweet pickles!
Fortunately, our Back to Eden garden has given us about 400 pounds (no, seriously) of cucumbers in the last 4 weeks and is still going strong!
This is just one day worth of cucumbers... we get this many every day!
While most are going to the chickens at this point, I'm still canning pickles at an alarming rate!
We have dill spears, of course, hamburger dill slices, and sweet gherkins. All sitting pretty on the shelves and waiting to be devoured later in the year...
But with the number of sweet gherkins we go through in a year, I really wanted to up the number of sweet pickles we had in the pantry without having to wait for more tiny cucumbers to be produced.
In fact, it's been kind of tricky to catch the cucumbers at the right stage, since they seem to grow from minuscule to ginormous in less than 24 hours!
So I set out to create a great sweet pickle spears recipe that could be used on bigger cucumbers to achieve that same sweet gherkin flavor and texture. Much to my surprise, I hit the jackpot on the first try!
Note: This recipe uses approved vinegar levels for canning pickles and only changes seasonings.
Sweet Pickle Recipe
Whether you have large or small cucumbers, this sweet pickle recipe is just the thing to use them up without having to undergo the 4 day process of making sweet gherkins!
In fact, from start to finish this recipe takes about 3 hours of total time, and less than 20 minutes of hands on time!
Another thing I really like about this recipe is that you get nice crisp sweet pickles regardless of how you slice them! I like spears, but my mom likes slices... and this sweet pickle recipe is perfect for either style!
In depth water bath canning instructions can be found in my Quick Start Guide to Water Bath Canning, and nothing changes for this delicious sweet pickles recipe except the ingredients ;-)
How to Make Crisp Sweet Pickles
If you've ever tried canning pickles before, you may have have a soggy finished product. That's because the recipe likely didn't call for any tannin ingredient!
Tannin helps the pickles stay nice and crisp even through the extended heating process.
In the past, people used grape leaves, but I prefer black tea. I love the flavor that it yields and it works perfectly for keeping the pickles crisp!
So, while I might see odd that my recipe calls for black tea, this keeps the pickles crisp through the canning process!
Just be sure to rip the bag open and pour the loose leaves into the jar - you don't want any packaging, staples, or tags in with your sweet pickles!
Canning Sweet Pickle Spears
This recipe for canning pickles is perfect if you love crisp sweet gherkin pickles! Works with cucumbers of any size!
Cover spears with boiling water and let stand 2 hours. Drain. (***See notes)
- Combine sugar, salt, and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- In hot wide mouth quart jars, place 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp whole cloves, 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, and the contents of 1 tea bag (don't include any of the packaging!).
- Pack spears into hot jars and ladle sugar/vinegar over them, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Remove bubbles and wipe the rim of the jar to ensure a good seal.
- Adjust lid and ring to finger-tightness, process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
- Remove carefully from boiling water bath and place on a towel on the counter (this reduces the change of glass breakage).
- Allow to sit overnight before moving. Check seals in the morning and refrigerate anything that didn't fully seal.
** Organic Tea: You can use pickle crisp instead, if desired. 3/4 tsp per pint, or 1 1/2 tsp per quart. Add the pickle crisp to each jar before adding the cucumbers or liquid. Process as normal.
*** Boiling Water Step: Please note, this step is to take the place of a 3 day brine process that is normal with sweet cucumber pickles.
The water DOES NOT stay at a boiling temperature, you boil it, then pour it over a bowl full of sliced cucumbers.
There has been some confusion about this step, so I'm adding additional details. Hopefully this helps. You CAN skip this step if desired, however, you may not get the full flavor depth in your finished product.