If you love a really crispy sweet/hot pickle, this is the recipe for you. Lime pickles are a southern tradition and while not an “easy” canning recipe, because it is a two-day process, it is mostly passive time and the results are so worth the effort.
I have been making this recipe for sweet hot pickles for several years now, but just have not found the time to post it. Finally, here it is. And boy, oh boy, is it worth the effort. And by effort, I mean mostly passive time.
The cucumbers are sliced and soaked in water and pickling lime for 12-24 hours. Once thoroughly rinsed (several times) to remove the lime, the cucumbers are then iced for several hours. These two steps insure an incredibly crisp pickle.*
The next step is to prepare the pickling syrup and let the pickles soak in for another 6-12 hours. The syrup consists of white vinegar (5% acidity), water, sugar, pickling salt and pickling spices. Since I am allergic to ginger, I make my own pickling spice without it; the recipe below shows exactly what I used, but you can use commercial pickling spice for yours.
Once the pickles have cured in the syrup, it’s time to can. The syrup is drained off the cucumbers, brought to a boil and simmered for half an hour. During that time, I prepare my jars, toss the cucumbers with sliced onion, pack the jars, add crushed red pepper flakes and then top with the hot syrup.
A quick ten minute boiling water bath for pint jars, or fifteen minutes for quart jars, and you have Southern-Style Cucumber Lime Pickles. They are perfect for snacking, added to salads and sandwiches, and are a staple on any relish tray or charcuterie board.
*Pickling lime is caustic, so you will need to use a non-reactive container to soak the cucumbers. I used a 3 gallon crock; I recommend using either a ceramic or glass container.
- 7 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup pickling lime (can be found with canning supplies)
- 2 gallons water
- 2 quarts white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 8 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice
- 3 cups sliced sweet onions
- crushed red pepper flakes
- MY PICKLING SPICE:
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- ½ tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Mix pickling lime in water in a nonreactive container. See recipe note.
- Add the cucumbers to the lime/water mixture, drape the container with a clean kitchen towel and soak cucumbers for 12 - 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Drain the lime water from the cucumbers and rinse thoroughly three times with cold water, being sure all the lime residue is removed (the lime is cloudy, so you will see your rinse water run clear).
- After the final rinse, add cold water and ice to the cucumbers to completely cover them.
- Allow to soak in the ice water for 3-6 hours.
- Drain the ice water off of the cucumbers.
- To prepare the syrup, add the vinegar, sugar, salt and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Add the pickling spice and pour over the drained cucumbers.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to soak for 6-12 hours.
- Drain the syrup off the cucumbers into a large saucepan.
- Bring the syrup to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
- In the mean time, prepare your jars. See note **
- Toss the drained cucumbers with the onions, pack into the prepared jars.
- Top each pint jar with ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (each quart jar with ¼ teaspoon).
- Carefully pour the boiling syrup over the cucumbers in the jars, leaving ½ inch of head space.
- Using a hot cloth, clean the rims of the jars to remove any dripped syrup prior to adding the lids.
- Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 minutes for quart jars.
- Remove the jars from the boiling water bath and cool completely to allow jars to seal.