The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Summer is Pickling Time

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1996

Issue: Summer, 1996

Grandma didn't have the luxury of modern day freezers to put away foods but she still managed to store enough food to feed her family well throughout the whole year. Most of the food Grandma put up was canned. Canning jars were precious and carefully treated with respect and many foods were also pickled and stored in stoneware crocks.

This month, we are printing some recipes that were old favorites in Grandma's day. You might recognize some of your old time favorites and discover others that are destined to become favorites at your house. They all make interesting side dishes and relishes and make any meal special.

Pickled Peaches

1/2 peck peaches
2 pounds brown sugar (white may be used)
1 pint mild cider vinegar
1 ounce stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons whole cloves

Boil sugar, vinegar an cinnamon 5 minutes. Dip peaches quickly in hot water, peel or rub off the fur with a towel. Stick each peach with 4 cloves or add 2 tablespoons whole cloves to syrup. Cook peaches in boiling syrup, a few at a time, for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Pack tight in hot sterilized jars, cover with syrup and seal. If necessary make additional syrup to fill jars. Strain spices from syrup to prevent darkening of fruit.

Crab apples and pears may also be pickled. Do not cut stems from crab apples. Prick each one several times. Small hard pears are best, however larger ones quartered can be used; these are usually pared.

Cabbage Filled Peppers

6 sweet red or green peppers
1/2 head of cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 cups vinegar

Wash peppers, remove stems, cut off tops and remove seeds without breaking shells. Cut cabbage fine as for slaw, add salt and mustard seed. Mix thoroughly and place in peppers, pressing it in tightly. If desired place tops on peppers and fasten them down with toothpicks. Arrange them upright in stone jar and cover with cold vinegar. Place cover over jar and store in cool place. They may be kept for several months. Serves 6.

Green Tomato Pickles

Have you ever seen the first frost of fall and regretted loosing the large number of small, green tomatoes that are still growing on the vine? Gather them all, no matter how small and try pickling them this year.

1 gallon green tomatoes (small whole ones cut in half or slice larger ones - 16 cups sliced)
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon powdered alum
3 cups vinegar
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mixed spices
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon mustard seeds.

Slice tomatoes, Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand overnight. Next morning drain and pour 2 quarts of boiling water with 1/2 tablespoon alum over the tomatoes and let stand 20 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water and drain. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and spices (tie cinnamon, allspice, and celery seeds in bag) and bring to a boil. Pour this over the tomatoes. Let stand in this solution overnight. Then drain and bring solution to a boil and pour over tomatoes. Let stand overnight. On the third morning bring the pickles and solution to a boil. Pack in sterilized jars and seal at once.


1 quart chopped cabbage
1 quart chopped green tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers
2 sweet green peppers
2 large onions
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seeds

Chop the cabbage, tomatoes, red and green peppers and onions. Mix with the salt and let stand overnight. Next morning drain and press in cloth to remove all liquid possible. Boil vinegar, water, sugar and spices 5 minutes. Add the chopped vegetable mixture, bring to a boil and pour into sterilized jars and seal at once. It makes a great relish to serve in the middle of winter with a plate of cornbread and a big bowl of pinto beans.

Corn Relish

Corn relish is a variation on the Piccalilli recipe.

2 quarts raw corn, cut from cob
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons celery seed
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seed
3 cups cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a deep kettle; mix well. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into hot quart or pint jars; seal. Set jars on wire rack in deep kettle with boiling water to cover tops of jars. Cover. Boil 30 minutes, counting time when active boiling starts. Remove from heat. Yields 2 quarts or 4 pints.

Pickled Beets

1 gallon small beets
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
3 1/2 cups vinegar

Wash and drain beets. Cover with boiling water. Cook until tender. Remove skin, stem and root ends. Add sugar, salt, spices, and 1 1/2 cups water to vinegar. Simmer 15 minutes. Pack beets into hot jars. Heat liquid to boiling. Pour boiling hot over beets. If not enough liquid to cover, add more vinegar. Process pints and quarts 30 minutes in boiling-water bath.

Pickled Onions

Editor's note: I have never seen the white cloves called for in this recipe, but as it is an old one, perhaps you might like to experiment with it. It also isn't clear how much sugar to add to the vinegar, but I suppose you could add sugar to your own taste.

3 pounds small white onions
1 cup salt
1 quart boiling water
4 or 5 peppercorns
3 or 4 white cloves
bits of bay leaf
1 quart slightly sweetened vinegar

Peel onions and place in pan. Cover with a strong brine of salt and boiling water. Let stand overnight. Drain and pack onions into sterilized jars. Season with peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf. Fill jar with boiling, sweetened vinegar. Cover and seal. Onions are ready to eat in 5 or 6 days, but will keep indefinitely in sealed jars.

Pickled Cherries

Remove pits from ripe cherries, cover with vinegar for 24 hours. Drain and add to each cup of cherries, 1 cup of sugar. Then stir in 1 teaspoon each of cloves and cinnamon. Stir once a day until sugar is all dissolved, then put in jars and seal.