Grandma’s Pickles

When we first planted a garden 3 years ago, I knew I needed to grow cucumbers because I knew I wanted to make pickles. My grandma had always made homemade sweet pickles, and they were a highlight of family dinners. She moved to town and gave up her garden (and making pickles) several years ago, though.

With this in mind, the first year I planted three cucumber plants. They grew well and before I knew it, I had 8-10 cucumbers sitting on my counter – I needed to make pickles! I called my grandma for the recipe. Only problem, she didn’t have it! Turns out that all of those years my favorite pickles were made based on a recipe on a package. They still are today…

Those first cucumbers became refrigerator pickles as I struggled to find pickling lime, but after a little research, I finally found Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime at our local Tractor Supply Co, recipe and all!

Here is the recipe as it appears on the package with my comments and additions in italics:


  • 7 lbs. cucumbers (sliced. I recommend pickling cucumbers, but I have used slicing cukes.)
  • 1 cup MRS. WAGES Pickling Lime (lime is not citrus flavor, it’s white powder used in the pickling process.)
  • 2 gallons water (I think I often use less water, but I use the correct amount of lime)
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 8 cups Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (optional) (I opt to NOT use salt)
  • 2 teaspoons MRS. WAGES Mixed Pickling Spices (Any pickling spice will work. I’ve used multiple brands)
  • Green food coloring.
Sliced cucumbers, soaking in lime water, soaking in liquid, boiling in liquid with green dye.


  1. Soak clean cucumbers in water and lime mixture in crockery or enamel ware for 12 hours or overnight. Do not use aluminum ware. (I now use two crocks each about half-full of slices and fill almost to the top with water. When I started, I used a plastic mixing bowl.)
  2. Remove sliced cucumbers from lime water. Discard lime water. Rinse 3 times in fresh cold water. Soak 3 hours in fresh ice water.(You can extend this step if your timing isn’t right, but the pickles seem to lose some crispiness, and it’s tough to keep the water cold. )
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and mixed pickling spices in a large pot. Bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove syrup from heat and add sliced cucumbers. Soak 5-6 hours or overnight. (Again, it seems like the longer you wait between lime-soak and canning, the less crisp the pickles will have, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me. I also usually make 2 cups of extra liquid 1 part vinegar: 1 part sugar sometime before packing jars. If you don’t it’s a real panic when you don’t have enough to fill the jars.)
  4. Boil slices in the syrup 35 minutes. Here is where I add the food coloring. The pickles naturally get a little yellowish, and my grandma always used food coloring to make them a very bright green, so I do the same. Fill sterilized jars with hot slices. Pour hot syrup over the slices, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cap each jar when filled. (To cap the jars, wipe the jar top clean and place an unused lid on the jar, then screw on a band finger-tight. It’s important that the band not be too tight so that air can escape during processing.)
  5. Process pints 10 minutes, quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. (Remember to add one minute for every 1000 feet of elevation.)
  6. Test jars for airtight seals according to manufacturer’s instructions. Refrigerate unsealed jars. (Usually this just means making sure the button is down and doesn’t move when you press on the center. Listen for a “pop” when you take them out of the water. Generally, we keep them in the fridge for two weeks if they don’t seal or after they are opened.)
The Finished Product

Although I usually can more than we can eat, my friends and family don’t seem to mind. There are currently 7 gallons in the cuboard (and we didn’t quite finish last years’). Merry Christmas, everyone!!

14 thoughts on “Grandma’s Pickles

  1. We had never made pickles before. My hubby found your recipe on the internet. Oh my goodness your Grandma’s pickles are absolutely wonderful. Takes awhile to make but it was worth it. Thanks for sharing her recipe. P.S. We used the green food coloring. They look great.

  2. Help! I cut up my cukes and put them in two crocks with lime water yesterday. This morning I see a brown residue on the outside of one of the crocks. Are the cukes in that rock safe to continue canning? There’s no “off” odor and the brown residue easily wipes off. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    1. I don’t recall this ever happening, but since you’re going to rinse them well, I don’t think it will be an issue to proceed…Good luck!

    1. It’s been a few years since I’ve made these (my garden had to be abandoned due to a farm project, and i haven’t tilled a new one yet), so I’m not 100% sure. I would plan for 6 to 8 pints from this recipe.

      1. when you soak in vinegar sugar and spice (step 3) do you do it in fridge or just on counter?

  3. Sorry to be such a pain how much food coloring? Making these for the first time. My mom use to make these and everyone loved them. I went to a local farm to get the cucumbers and the lady there who I don’t know said when I told her what I was doing ” oh I loved those pickles growing up my mom would buy them from your mom at the Church bizarre for Christmas Dinner.

    1. Enough? I know that’s a cop-out answer, but I feel like it varies depending on the cucumbers. Sometimes my late season cucumbers were yellowish and it took more. Generally speaking, it takes quite a bit to get the bold true green color I wanted.

      I love that these pickles are as nostalgic for you as they are for me! I just hope they live up to your memories!

      1. I made the pickles, a double batch, they came out great. I sent them to my cousin who always asked about them, he loved them. I sent them to my sister they should be there today. My father said they tasted just like my mom’s Thank you so much for posting this you have made several family members Christmases. By the way I used 2 jars of green dye to get the desired color.

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