Low-Salt Refrigerator Pickles


In 1986, I was living with my husband and youngest daughter in Blue Jay, Ohio, on the Indiana border.  My husband had a huge garden and lots of cucumbers.  This was one of a long list of recipes for pickles that I used.  I was still working full time and commuting an hour each way, so this one was good because it used a lot of cucumbers and made up quickly.  I could get a batch made up after supper and they could be used within 4-5 days.   This recipe is from my bible at the time – Pickles & Relishes – 150 Recipes – Apples to Zucchini.



  • 3 qts thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 3 medium size onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp pickling salt (optional)
  • 1-1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 1-1/3 tsp celery seeds
  • 1-1/3 tsp mustard seeds



Layer cucumbers and onions in a jar, packing tightly.  Combine remaining ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Pour the syrup over the cucumbers and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for 4-5 days before using.

Keep these pickles refrigerated.  You can add to the mixture whenever you have more cucumbers.

Yield:  3 quarts


My Favorite Corn Relish

We’ve had a sensational corn season here in southwest Ohio.  Every week, I drive to my favorite farm market, Blooms and Berries in Loveland, Ohio, and pick up some great bi-color sweet corn.  Many times this summer, my daughter and I have had a supper of corn-on-the-cob, a big tossed salad and some kind of cobbler or Brown Betty made with fresh fruit – now, that says summertime!

Whenever I had an ear of cooked corn left over, I cut it from the cob and put it in a bag in the freezer.  Finally, today I had enough to make my favorite corn relish.  When I was a child in the 1930s-40s, the items I loved the most on the dinner tables of my grandmothers and my great-aunt were the pickles and relishes, and corn relish was my favorite.  This recipe from a book called FANCY PANTRY comes the closest to what I remember from those long-ago days.


  • Servings: Makes 3 cups of relish
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  • 3-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels*
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 Tblsp. pickling salt
  • 1 Tblsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp. ground hot red pepper
  • 1-1/4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

*You can substitute thawed frozen corn (drained) or well drained canned corn if fresh isn’t available.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the corn, onions, red and green pepper and celery.

Add the brown sugar, pickling salt, mustard, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, hot red pepper, vinegar and water.  Stir everything together and place pot on medium-high heat.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Lower heat and simmer mixture partly covered until it has thickened slightly – about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle relish into hot sterilized jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, counting the time after the water has started to boil again after inserting the jars. I like to use an asparagus steamer for processing just a jar or two.

This batch makes about 3 cups of relish.  I filled a one-pint jar and processed it.  A half-pint jar was filled and not processed, but will be refrigerated.  In either case, allow the relish to cure for two weeks before using.  The refrigerated version should be used within two weeks after the curing time.

The pint jar will be stored away for Thanksgiving when I like to have on the table a sampling of pickles and relishes that I’ve made that year.   Here are some other pickles and relishes I’ve made this summer that I plan to have on my Thanksgiving table this year:

This is a good website with information on canning.

Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles

I first made these pickles on September 21, 1985, and thought they were good enough to take to the county fair in 1986.  I don’t believe they won a ribbon, but the family enjoyed them.

The recipe is from a great book, Garden Way’s Pickles & Relishes – 150 recipes – Apples to Zucchini, by Andrea Chesman. The original recipe made 4 pints, but I cut it in half for this batch which will give me one jar to use this summer and one jar to save for next Memorial Day and July 4th.  The addition of Tabasco sauce makes them spicy but not hot.


  • 3-1/2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers, unpeeled
  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

The Brine:

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. mixed pickling spices
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Combine the cucumbers, onions, one quart of water and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce in a stainless steel or glass bowl and let stand for 3-4 hours.

Drain the vegetables and rinse 3 times with cold water; let stand in fresh water for 5 minutes, then drain again.

Combine the vinegar, one cup of water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, spices and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce in a stainless steel saucepan; stir and bring to a boil.  Add the drained vegetables to boiling brine, bring to a boil again, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill hot sterilized pint jars with the pickled mixture, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Seal.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, counting the time after the water begins to boil again after the jar has been inserted.  For small batches like this, I like to use an asparagus steamer for processing the pickles.

Cool on a wire rack.

Let pickles cure for at least 2 weeks before serving.

Click here for a good website on canning and preserving.

Harvest Relish (One Quart)

toppixExactly 14 years ago today, September 7, 1995, I made this relish for the first time, making a big batch so I could use up some more of the tomatoes and cucumbers my husband was continually hauling into the house from the garden in a big oversized wicker basket.  We had to leave our big garden behind over 8 years ago when my husband was very ill with Alzheimer’s and he passed away 5 years ago.  So, today on the anniversary of the first try at this recipe, I made a quart of this relish for myself and for my daughter when she visits.  We especially like it served alongside grilled pork tenderloin.  The recipe is from the book, The Forgotten Art of Making Old Fashioned Pickles.


  • 2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and ground
  • 2 cups tomato, peeled and chopped (prefer Roma)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Chinese mustard
  • 1-1/4 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

Place cucumber, tomato and onion in a large pot.  Add sugar and vinegar, stir to blend and cook until vegetables are tender – 20-25 minutes.


In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, flour and turmeric.  Stir into the cooked vegetable mixture, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until mixture has thickened.

Add salt and pepper, mixing well.  Pour into sterilized jars, cap and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (for pint and half-pint jars).


Yield:  One quart (2 pints) 


Mom’s Blue Ribbon Watermelon Pickles

I once heard Garrison Keillor say something to the effect that the only purpose for watermelon pickles was to have an item on the Thanksgiving table that you could pass up.  When I was a child at my Grandmothers’ or Great-Aunt’s tables, the very things I looked forward to were corn relish, picallili and watermelon pickles.

I was a late-comer to canning and preserving.  My mother never attempted it and I was 50 before I found myself in a country home with a big garden and a lot of produce to use up.  Once I got started, I enjoyed canning so much that I spent the entire summer “putting up” everything my husband brought into the kitchen in his oversized basket.  We never grew watermelon but I bought a good Indiana melon each summer at the farmer’s market and made these pickles in quantity.  Now that I’m alone, I make up one small jar so I can have something on the Thanksgiving table for people to pass on.  This recipe won a Blue Ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1983.


  • Servings: Makes one cup
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  • 3 cups of watermelon rind, prepared*
  • 1 cup cold tap water
  • 3/4 Tblsp. pickling salt


  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • One 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar

*To prepare watermelon rind:

I used a medium sized seedless watermelon.  This melon had a thin rind.  Big old-fashioned black-seeded melons have a very thick rind and may need a longer cooking time.  The very small melons don’t have enough rind to use in this recipe.

Cut the melon in sections and cube the watermelon to set aside for some good eating.  Don’t cut too closely to the white portion of the rind.

Trim off the green rind and scrape the watermelon off the white section.  I cut my melon in matchstick strips about 1/2″ wide.

Place the rind strips in a non-metal container, cover with water and add salt.  Soak overnight.

The next morning, drain the rind, cover with fresh water and cook approximately 30 minutes at medium heat until almost tender.  Add water if needed.  Drain.

In a large pan, place the allspice, cloves, cinnamon, white vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the drained rind and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  The brine should be syrupy and cover the rind with a little to spare.

Remove the cinnamon stick and pour pickles into a sterilized 1/2 pint jar and cap.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a jar or two.   Let jar cool on a rack before storing. Allow pickles to cure for at least a week before using for best flavor. 

This is a good web site for information on canning and preserving foods.

Sweet and Sour Pickle Sticks

In the 20 years we lived in the country and had a huge vegetable garden, I made every type of pickle, many of them prizewinners at the county fair, but this is my personal favorite and the only pickles that we ran out of before canning season came around each year.  The cucumbers can be cut in any shape – slices, spears, or small ones could be left whole – but fairly thin sticks were always cut for these pickles.

I used to put up 20 or 25 jars during the summer, but since I’m alone now, I make up a small batch to last through the summer barbecue season.  This recipe makes 3 one-pint jars.


  • 6 medium sized pickling cucumbers (not the waxed type found at the supermarket), enough to fill 3 pint-sized Mason canning jars
  • 1-1/4  cup plus 2 Tblsp. white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tblsp. pickling salt
  • 1 Tblsp. celery seed
  • 1 Tblsp. plus 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2-1/4 cups granulated sugar

Cut cucumbers into strips and pack into sterilized jars.  No need to peel, but trim off the ends.  The freshest cucumbers make the crunchiest pickles.

In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, pickling salt, celery seed, turmeric, mustard seed and sugar.  Bring to a boil – then boil 5 minutes longer.  Pour over the cucumbers in the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Wipe jars clean, put lids on jars and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack before storing.  I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a few jars.  Let cure for 2 weeks before using.  

This is a good web site for information on canning and preserving foods.