Old-Fashioned Horseradish Pickles


When I saw it in the pages of a feed store magazine, this recipe brought back an instant memory of a gallon jar of pickles on my grandmother’s Fountain Avenue kitchen counter. I was amazed when she told me that the jar would sit there for a whole month before the pickles would be ready to eat. That sounded like an eternity to have a jar of fermenting cucumbers on the counter, not to mention an awfully long time to wait before we could eat them!

In general, I make a habit of vetting out new recipes before I post them here at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen.  My main goal is that readers find the recipes to be low risk and high reward.  I’d rather have a flop in my kitchen and learn from it so that you don’t have the same experience in yours.

In this case, my husband picked up a magazine called Capper’s Farmer while buying feed for our chickens at the farmer’s supply store. He noticed it had a few recipes and some interesting articles, and he thought I might enjoy it. While skimming the pages, my eyes went to a horseradish pickle recipe that not only evoked memories of my grandmother’s pickle jar, it reminded me of a store-bought horseradish pickle that all the guys in my family adored.

It occurred to me that, by the time my 30 days are up, it may be hard to find the small cucumbers that are ideal for pickle-making.  So, I thought some of the risk takers out there might enjoy experimenting along with me.  So many recipes from community cookbooks are real treasures, and I’m hoping for the same outcome from this lovely magazine.  Given the presence of horseradish, these pickles will likely have a little kick.

So, who’s in?  I, for one, will report back over the next 30 days.  In the meantime, I would love to know if anyone else is tempted to try this new recipe along with me.  For the record, you don’t have to make a whole gallon jar!  As I note below, you may choose enough cucumbers to fill your jar of choice, and make enough brine to cover.

And though the wait is long, the initial effort is low.  These pickles really are easy.


Day 7:  We tasted the pickles and adore the flavor.  The pickles have less kick than I thought they might have–in a good way.  They are still loaded with flavor and smell wonderful.  I’m putting some in the refrigerator now and allowing the rest to continue to ripen on the counter. Also, I did an experiment and left the blossom end on some of the cucumbers (see notes, below).  I stored these in a separate jar and, sure enough, the enzyme in the blossom end created a soft pickle.

Day 14:  The flavor of these pickles was such a hit with my family that I started a second batch after one week.  Two weeks after starting my first batch, I compared the two and the flavors were similar.  The biggest change in flavor definitely comes in the first week.  So if you prefer not to have a big jar of pickles on your counter, feel free to transfer them to the refrigerator around day seven.

Day 21:  My dill-pickle-loving sister was visiting from out of town and she raved about this old-fashioned horseradish version.  The flavor becomes slightly more developed each week, but they have truly tasted delicious since week one.

Day 28: Until now, this seven-day pickle recipe has been my hands-down favorite.  Now I have two must-make pickle recipes.  The recipes are completely different, and I love them each for their own distinctive flavors.  Interestingly, I don’t usually gravitate towards dill pickles, but I adore the dill flavor in combination with the kick of horseradish in the recipe below. I kept one jar on the counter for the whole month and, as I mentioned before, the flavor does continue to develop, although more slowly in the later weeks.  In a warm kitchen, the pickles would likely ferment faster and some might notice a white film floating on top of the brine.  Our kitchen tends to stay on the cooler side, and none of my pickle jars had this.  For those who may encounter it, the film is harmless. Simply skim off the top.

Old-Fashioned Horseradish Pickles
You can start with any amount of pickles you choose--a lot or a little. Pack them into the desired size and number of jars, then just be sure to have enough brining liquid to cover. If you're not sure about the right amount of garlic and dill, don't worry. As the cucumbers sit over the brining period, you may sample them and add more to suit your taste. Whole cucumbers tend to make slightly crisper pickles, but quarters or halves pack more easily into the jars. See the note section for ways to ensure a crisp pickle.

Yields 1 gallon jar.
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  1. 3 pounds cucumbers (small pickling cucumbers are ideal)
  2. 5 1/3 cups white vinegar
  3. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1/3 cup kosher salt (iodine in table salt may impede fermentation)
  5. 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  6. 3/4 cup horseradish
  7. Garlic (optional; I used 10 cloves in the gallon jar)
  8. Dill (optional; I used 4 heads (sprigs) to the gallon)
  1. Wash and drain the cucumbers, and leave them whole or cut in half or into spears, as desired. Do make sure to slice off 1/8 to 1/4-inch of the blossom end. (See notes)
  2. Place the pickles in a large jar or crock. (Avoid using a metallic container; even the ceramic insert of a Crock Pot works.)
  3. In a large mixing bowl (I've since done this directly in the gallon jar I'm using for the pickles), combine all the remaining ingredients, and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers to cover. (Placing a small, non-metallic lid or saucer--even a cabbage leaf--over the top will help keep the cucumbers submerged.)
  4. Put the lid on the jar, and let the pickles sit at room temperature for up to 30 days. After a week, you may begin tasting for flavor. When the pickles achieve a "ripeness" that you like, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. The colder temperature will stop the fermenting process and preserve the flavor you enjoy.
  1. In my grandmother's day, cherry or grape leaves were often added to jars or barrels of cucumbers as a natural way to encourage crisp pickles. The tannins in the leaves were what did the trick. People have also found that adding a small amount of tannin-rich black tea leaves will accomplish the same goal. Some people have reported adding a whole tea bag to a gallon jar. To ensure my pickles don't carry the flavor of tea, I add 1/4 teaspoon of black tea leaves per gallon.
  2. Also, depending on how well the cucumbers have been washed, there can be an enzyme in the blossom end of a cucumber that can lead to softening. Trimming this end off and washing well will eliminate the potential problem.
  3. Depending on the temperature in different kitchens, the pickles will ferment at different speeds. If you notice any white mold on the top, simply skim to remove. It will not compromise the pickles in the brine below.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
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Wash the cucumbers well….


You can get around the problem of a metal lid by using a piece of material or parchment paper to cover the jar. It is not essential that the lid is airtight. The main concern is keeping flies away. Also, as the cucumbers ferment, it is helpful to remove a tight-fitting lid every few days to release any pressure that may build up and to make sure the pickles are fully submerged in the brine.

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  1. Maggie

    I am totally making these too. There is a horseradish pickle from a market we go to when traveling that is so good. Horseradish makes everything better! Thanks for sharing this recipe as you are making!

  2. Alicelynne

    I want to try these. After 30 days, do you refrigerate the pickles or leave them out at room temp. How long can they stay at room temp?

    1. Ann

      Hi Alicelynne,
      After 30 days, I would put them in the refrigerator. You can taste them after about a week and occasionally from then on. If they taste good to you, you can really refrigerate them at any time. Depending on the temperature in different kitchens, the pickles will ferment at different speeds. I hope that helps, and I will update the recipe as others may have this same question. Thanks for taking the time to ask and good luck with them!

      1. Ann

        As a follow up, I made some notes in the post above mentioning how the pickles tasted week by week. Feel free to read and refrigerate accordingly.

    1. Ann

      I bet your grandma’s kosher dills are wonderful, Lenny! Coincidentally, since I’m now a week in, I just tasted these pickles for the first time and the flavor is outstanding. If you try, I hope you enjoy!

  3. Alexis M

    Hi….made these pickles today! We LOVE Long’s horseradish, it’s awesome!!! Don’t know if I can wait 30 days till they are done. Thanks for recipe, we usually buy horseradish pickles from Oregon Dairy or spicy pickled green beans from Epic Pickles. Yum!

    1. Ann

      Oooh, we’ve had the Epic Pickles…they are terrific! I’m not sure if you noticed my update, but these pickles already tasted fabulous after one week. So, taste as you wait and put them in the refrigerator when they get to the point you love.

  4. Alexis M

    Your garlic looks fresh…where do you get yours? Ours comes from produce stand on Hunsicker road or the one on Hartman Station.

    1. Ann

      This garlic came from either Green Circle Organics at Central Market or Lemon Street Market. I can’t remember which one because I’ve gotten some from both places recently that looked this fresh. I almost hated to break it apart and use it!

  5. Lisa

    I made a very big batch of these and have already tasted 3 days in and love the flavor. Thank you for the tip about cutting off the blossom end of the cucumber. I never did that before and wondered why my pickles were never as crisp as I would have liked. These are already firmer than what I’ve made before and they do always seem crisper yet once they are refrigerated and cold.

    1. Ann

      That is great feedback, Lisa. Thank you for taking the time to comment. We, too, loved the taste early on. There is definitely no need to wait a whole month: )

  6. Rebecca

    Did I miss a step? Do you pressure or hot water bath the jars? I want to make sure I’m making something safe. This recipe sounds amazing!

    1. Ann

      You didn’t miss a thing. They can sit on the counter for up to a month. The cucumbers slowly ferment the old-fashioned way, as with homemade sauerkraut or kimchi. After that, store them in the refrigerator where the brine will preserve them for quite some time. You can also eat from the jar throughout the month and add more cucumbers, if desired. I hope you enjoy!

  7. carolyne

    I want to can them I lost my recipe my grandma’s made she put them in a crock and soaked them for quite awhile then took out and I don’t remember what all she put in but did quartered them and put a whole piece of horseradish in each pickel then the hot mixture and sealed them up Recipe please

    1. Ann

      This is the only recipe I have for horseradish pickles. I bet your grandmother’s version was wonderful. If you are inspired to try this one, I hope you enjoy.

  8. Pingback: Pickle Recipe Roundup - Simply Cait

  9. Kim

    We’re addicted to a certain store bought pickle that is a sweet pickle with horseradish. The recipe seems to match but it doesn’t seem like enough sugar. Do you think it would work with more sugar?

      1. Kim

        Thank you. I’ll give them a shot. I do a lot of canning but gave up on pickles because they come out soft. I’m curious to see how they come out using fermenting. Right now the brine from my favorites is getting reused – a lot. It takes about 3 days for them to be decent, a week to be really yummy. But $5/jar is steep on our budget.

        1. Ann Post author

          Hi Kim,
          In all my years of pickle making, the tip I mention in the recipe notes about cutting off the blossom end has made the biggest difference in crispness. I hope you enjoy these, and I’d love to know how you make out!

          1. Jean Husson

            These sound great and I am going to make them. The instructions say to cut off the blossom end which is opposite the stem end according to the sources I checked. This comment says it’s the stem end. Which is correct? Also, has anyone tried these with the small Persian cucumbers instead of Kirby pickling variety that have a much thicker skin? Many thanks.

          2. Ann Post author

            Thanks for catching my mindless error in the comment, Jean. I just corrected it. The blossom end, as written in the instructions, is most definitely the part to remove. Another tip I read recently might be helpful, too, and ties into the thickness of the skin. (I haven’t made these with Persian cucumbers, by the way, only Kirby to date.)

            Here’s the tip regarding the age of the cucumber: Too young cucumbers tend to be thin-skinned and won’t stand up to the pickling process. When the cucumbers are too old, they’ll have tough, fibrous skin and large, bitter seeds. Size is a good indicator (go for medium), as is taste. If the cucumber is sweet with a good crunch when you bite into it, it’s a keeper. Also, pickle your cucumbers as soon after buying or picking them as possible.

            Hope this helps!

      1. Bee

        Thanks. They are sitting on my stove all happy in two jars. I had to make a half batch of brine to cover the the second jar but I am hoping they turn out like one I love at a flea market I get them at. I will keep you posted!

  10. Autumn

    These look great. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I want to make them without the salt. Do you think it would affect the fermentation process if I leave it out? The pickles and pickled onions or jalapenos that I make regularly go directly into the fridge after pouring hot brine over them and allowing to cool. I’ve never tried room temp pickling without salt, and I’m wondering if the vinegar alone is enough to prevent spoilage. what do you think?

    1. Ann Post author

      That is a good question, Autumn. I think that the vinegar would alleviate spoilage, but can’t say for sure. As for the taste, I haven’t tried a salt-free version. If you are accustomed to making pickles without salt, I wouldn’t hesitate to try. If you don’t want to risk it, you could experiment with adding some horseradish to one of your tried and true recipes. And if you’re willing to share one of your favorite salt-free recipes, I bet there are some readers who would appreciate it!

  11. Kari M.

    I was told that adding a bay leaf keeps the skin crisper. I’m not a canner so I don’t know if that would be the same reasoning/reaction as the grape leaves, etc. Would be happy to hear from canners on this though. I have done one fermented batch and I did add the bay leaf. Wish I’d made 2 batches, one with and one without, to test but I didn’t think I would be happy with yucky skin on my pickles so I opted just to try it with. Worked well! Pickles turned out great. Will be giving these a try soon!

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Kari. I hadn’t heard of using a bay leaf, but it makes sense that it could act similarly to a grape leaf. I’d love to hear if others have tried!