Luvey’s Eight Day Sweet Pickle Chips

This recipe looks complex, but it really isn’t. I’m sorry I don’t have more photos, but I’m still hunting down pickling cucumbers this year. These are pictures of last year’s pickles.

This is a pickle like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. The most heavenly, crisp, sweet and tangy pickle chip you could ask for. Best ice cold. Perfect chopped in tuna or egg salad. Or potato salad. Or remoulade. Or layered in a ham sandwich.

Luvey worked for my Grandmother Mary from the time I can remember. When my grandmother died at 103 or so (can no longer remember exactly as she lied about her age for years,) Luvey was still alive, but failing. She was a tall, charming woman from South Carolina, who went on cruises and saw the world after she semi-retired late in her 70s.

Luvey came to the house three days a week. She cleaned and ironed and polished everything. She ran the vacuum, did the laundry. She loved my Grandmother. She sat down and had lunch with Mary every day she worked. A lunch of hard boiled eggs or sardines, mustard, pickles, thin sliced pumpernickle bread, toasted, and a piece of fruit. Or some leftover roast meal reheated and reimagined as a sandwich, again served with pickles and mustard. And reheated coffee. (ack)

Until I found this recipe on a card in Mary’s recipe stack (I’ve got Bea’s and Jan’s as well, so many cards to get through!) I didn’t realize these pickles were a recipe of Luvey’s. I remembered their tang and snap, and made two batches last summer. They are best made with early, small, just-picked, pickling cukes.

You’ll need some equipment to make these pickles.

10 pounds of cucumbers, very fresh

Alum – a natural product that crisps the pickle – in many grocery store spice racks

Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt

Sugar

Pickling Spices – My recipe follows, and makes about 1/3 cup. I found it at some point somewhere on the interwebs and apologize for not being able to recreate the link and give proper credit.

A large crock or glass jar. I like having a lid, but you can always use plastic wrap and a rubber band. I’ve made these pickles in large flower vases. Adjust the quantity you make depending on the size of your pantry. I’m giving you the process for 10 lbs. of cucumbers, which produces 6 or 7 pints of pickles. Or 3 to 4 quarts. The jars are not processed, so you can use any old glass jars of any sort, as long as they have a lid and they have been sterilized. I like to use old fashioned glass canning jars for this pickle. Running the jars through a hot dishwasher is suitable sterilizing.

A pot large enough to boil 4-8 quarts of water. The bigger the better.

Day One:
Slice cucumbers – do not peel – into 1/4″ slices. A mandolin is very useful. Place the slices in the crock and cover with 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Two:
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with a brine of 1-1/2 c salt dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Three:
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with an alum mixture, 3 T Alum dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.

Day Four:
Drain the cucumbers and cover with 4 quarts of cider vinegar heated wtih 1/4 c pickling spice.

Day Five, Six and Seven:
Allow the pickles to cure, covered, in a cool spot.

Day Eight:
Drain the cucumber slices. They will be surprisingly crisp. But they are not done yet. Put the drained slices in a large (really large) bowl. Dump 4 cups of sugar over the pickle chips and toss well, coating all the slices. The sugar will draw out pickle juice and makes a syrup. Magic.

Divide the chips into your jars and scrape the sugar left over into the jars.

Cover and allow the jars to sit for a couple of days before tasting. Turn the jars over every day.

Chill well before tasting. Cold, they are absolutely amazing.

I know. Delayed gratification. It’s going to be a few days. But these are crazy good pickles.

Pickling Spice
(if you want to make your own)
1 tsp galangal
1 T allspice
3 cloves
2 tsp coriander seed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T mustard seed
2″ cinnamon stick
Combine well. Crush stick and seeds a little. Store in a jar for one pickling season.

70 thoughts on “Luvey’s Eight Day Sweet Pickle Chips”

  1. I love the image of you making pickles in a large flower vase! The recipe looks great – hope I can find alum…

  2. Pickle Spices creates harmony and balance to your dishes. Remember always store a pickle spice in your spice rack. It will make things a lot more easier for you.

  3. My "granny" used to make sweet pickles when I was young. I adored these pickles. Every time I saw her we had a snack of saltine crackers topped with deli american cheese and her sweet pickles. I still have this snack today but it isn't the same without her pickles.

  4. Hi Wendy. I"m so happy you're trying these pickles and can't wait to hear what you think. I really did mean drain, yes, not rinse. Happy pickling! – Cathy

  5. So glad I didn't rinse, then! I will have just enough time to do the sugar step on the eighth day and then I leave town for a few days and will leave my husband with the job of turning the jars. We'll have pickles when I get back! Thanks!

  6. I have pickles!! Thanks for this great recipe. I just want to check that I did it right because the liquid in each jar doesn't cover the top of the pickles…

  7. Yay! Wendy, it's funny, I was just thinking about your pickles yesterday, wondering how they came out. If the liquid doesn't cover, you can add more sugar to the jar, which will help create more liquid in the jar. I don't do that unless it's less than 1/2 full.

  8. They are delicious! Had some for lunch with egg salad on pumpernickel with pea shoots and tomato. The liquid is about half way up – if that's OK/safe, I'd be happy to leave it that way as they taste great as is. thanks again.

  9. Thank goodness for NPR or I might not have found this. I adore the old sweet pickle recipes. I have one from my mother and grandmother (Candy sweet pickles) that I supply to my clan. I'm going to try this next summer, but I have two questions. Can I use an enamel pot instead of a crock? Can I process the jars in a boiling water bath for longer/safer storage?

  10. I've only ever made these in glass, not enamel. I'm concerned about enamel because of leaching of the metal. These pickles don't needs to be processed – there is sufficient vinegar and sugar to make them shelf stable. The BWB method would cook the pickle, which would change the consistency.

  11. Yes, thank God for NPR. I just finished a trial recipe scaling down to 1.5 lbs of cucumbers and adjusting the rest as best I could. They are fantastic! I wesnt to the farmers market and got 5 lbs. more. What is galagel? I think I spelled it right. I left it out and can't say that it made a difference. Praise and thanks to "Luvey". Any more of her treasures available/

  12. Galangal is a ginger-like spice. If you don't have it, use ground ginger. I prefer galangal for it's vague floral undertone. I'm glad you like the pickles. I wish I had more of Luvey's recipes!

  13. Pingback: pickle crazy
  14. Thanks for this recipe…my Grandma used to make these abd i lovedddd em growin up but never knew the name of them…one question tho..how long will they be good for in quart jars since no processing involved?

    1. Hi RIcky,
      I know there’s no processing, but the pickles hold well for a year in my pantry. They’re kept in a cool, dark spot – I have no idea if that matters.

      1. Thanks…im gonna start the project tonight and will keep you posted on my progress…again ty for this recipe as i am very excited

        1. Another question…..would they last longer if i did process the jars?…or would that mess up the taste?…,also do they have both a sweet and sour taste?

          1. I see….let me ask this….on the 8th day is it adviseable to leave some if the vinegar in the crock to mix with the sugar so as to have more juice?

          2. Hi Ricky Enough liquid remains once they’re drained, plus, when you add the sugar, the moist pickles make a syrup almost immediately.

          3. Kinda figured that…the 8th day is this friday….so can eat on sunday after 2 days of turning jars,?

          4. I added vinegar brine last night….i used cheese cloth to hold the 1/4 cup pickling spices in while heating brine….i dont keep the spice bag in the brine with chips do i?

          5. Carol, What size Pickle Crock would i need to fit 10 lb chips in confortably in and where could i buy cheapest one?

  15. I came upon this recipe just trolling the net. i was most intregued by the story of the relationship of the two woman and in tribute to carrying on Luvey”s memory as well as being intregued by the process I made my first batch two years ago. They were amazing. I’ve given them as gifts to all my children and faithfully get the jars back for refills. Long live Luvey’s pickles

  16. These are GREAT….I am currently making my THIRD Batch. Everybody eats them as soon as they are Read. Once they are ready I have to go ahead and start on the next batch. Thanks! Oh and I am making 1/2 everything so I just cut everything in Half, except I need three cups of sugar instead of 2 so the sugar didn’t make enough juice when I cut it in half even though I was use 5 pounds instead of 10 pounds and 1/2 of everything else too.

  17. I don’t know why but sometimes when I make them they wrinkle up like the meat of them shrinks or something. I’m wondering if sometimes the water is too hot when I pour it over them.

    1. Hi David – Remember to cut a bit off each end of the cucumber (who knows which is the blossom end? so confusing!) The blossom end of the cucumber harbors an enzyme that contributes to mushy pickles. Extreme mushy = wrinkled up like a dog’s squeaky toy.

  18. Anchor Hocking makes a two gallon glass jar with glass lid for $9.99. Listed in their SPECIALS section. You can get them in large Walmart stores for $9.97 or Walmart online. Other stores sell them for $20.00 and more. Made in USA.

  19. Anchor Hocking makes a two gallon glass jar with a glass lid. You can find it on their web site listed in their SPECIALS section. Walmart carries them in their larger stores for $9.97 and you can get them on Walmart’s web site. Bought one today

  20. I used to have a recipe for sweet pickles that was called “Plastic Sweet Pickles”. When making them if you dropped one they would shatter like glass. Is this recipe like that?

  21. I am making these but could not find Alum at a big box retail store. They had lime and pickle-crisp (calcium chloride). I bought the pickle-crisp after reading articles online. All of these were from agricultural and technical universities saying alum does not create crispness, that lime does but requires multiple rinses. So I bought the pickle crisp. I soaked in boiling water and boiling salt water and tonight am going to make the vinegar. Since I’m skipping the lime, I’m adding the pickle crisp to the vinegar and spices. The directions on pickle-crisp say to add it to the bottom of the canning jars when you add your vinegar solution. Since this recipe doesn’t work the same as most recipes, I think the best thing to do is to add it to the hot vinegar, then pour that over all the pickles. If you have any suggestions or have heard about using pickle crisp, please let me know.

    1. I also could not find Alum and bought the pickle crisp not knowing if it was a good substitute. I’m on the Alum day so am unsure what to do. If I skip this step do I go on to the vinegar day?

      1. On my first batch, I skipped the alum and sprinkled pickle crips granules over the top of all the drained pickles and immediately poured the spiced vinegar over the pickles and stirred gently. I made a big pot (9 quarts). For the second batch, I decided to put on pickle crisp the first day when I poured over the boiling water. I think I will also put half again the pickle crisp when I pour in the vinegar solution because I will have drained out most of the pickle crisp. The first batch were good enough and crisp on the edges, but I think mostly because the sugar had filled up the cells. My first batch of cucumbers were older than I wanted. My next batch, which I started yesterday, were all younger and smaller and fewer of them had seeds. So with my altered pickle crisp approach and the younger cukes, I think they’ll all be crisp. I also plan to process half or more of this last batch because I want to keep them longer, maybe over a year, and want the extra protection. We have been devouring the first batch, and my girlfriend says they are just like her deceased momma’s, and that was my goal. Good luck. Please post your results. (These are better when they sit a week or more, so wait a week before saying they are too tart.)

        1. You can get anything on Amazon.com. Including Alum and Galangal! 🙂 Also, if you make kraut or other pickles that a few days of processing, you can also get a great 5 gal pottery kraut crock that has a water seal top and ceramic weights to hold the pickles down in the liquid. These pickles are the greatest!

  22. Hi there I am making this and am just about ready to pack into jars, but really struggle with not water processing them. Everything I read says that older recipes that only require crock fermentation aren’t safe for room temperature (pantry) storage as our modern vinegar is only 5-7% and the vinegar used by our grandmothers was up to 40%. On the pick your own website this is discussed (see below) and every source I can find says botchilism (which will not have visible signs likely and can kill you!) is a huge risk with these types of recipes.

    I want to make the recipe as stated as it is very similar to my grandmothers recipe but I am worries about even a 5 or 10 minute water bath since I have read this is a major culprit in non- crisp pickles….. Any thoughts on this ?

    Thanks so much !
    ——-

    From http://www.pickyourown.org/picklesFAQs.htm

    My favorite pickle recipe is from my grandmother and does not call for a boiling water bath process. Do I really need to process pickles?

    Processing is necessary for all pickles and relishes to destroy the yeasts, molds and bacteria that may cause the product to spoil and also to inactivate enzymes that could affect color, flavor and texture of the pickled product. Process pickled products for the length of time specified in the recipe. If no time is given, process the product for at least 10 minutes.
    Carefully place the filled jars onto a rack in the canner containing hot water. The water should be deep enough to cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Start counting processing time as soon as the water begins to boil.
    —-

  23. Hello my two questions are can I use regular vinegar in place of Apple cider vinegar for the sweet pickle recipe ? Two , my pot is not big enough to cover the jars so I just lay the jars over in the water and process for 15 minutes is that okay ?

    1. The cider vinegar is essential for a sweet pickle. You might try making it with white vinegar, but I think the pickles won’t have the same mellow tang. Under no circumstances can jars be processed lying on their side. You must process jars upright and they must be covered by at least one inch of water. If your pot is not tall enough to have the jars upright, consider using smaller jars, or look around for a great big pot that will serve for all your canning.

  24. I finished my batch yesterday and placed them in the jars as stated. I have tuned them several times over the last 24 hours. I could not wait any longer so I opened a jar today to taste and they are very vinegar flavored. Should I add more sugar?

  25. I have never pickled before, so please bear with me for a minute. I have so many regular cucumbers from a friends farm. I was looking to pickle some of them because there is no way I can eat them all fresh before they go bad. If I cut them into the right size would regular cucumbers work okay for this recipe?

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