Old-Fashioned Horseradish Pickles
Yield: 1 gallon jar
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.


  • 3 pounds cucumbers (small pickling cucumbers are ideal)
  • 5⅓ cups white vinegar
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup kosher salt (iodine in table salt may impede fermentation)
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • ¾ cup horseradish
  • Garlic (optional; I used 10 cloves in the gallon jar)
  • 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 ⅛ to ¼-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.


  • 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 ¼ teaspoon of black tea leaves per gallon.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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