We prefer to use cucumbers no bigger than 3″ long for this preparation, but larger ones work, too. The pickles will be ready to eat in 10 days and will keep for 3-6 months, but be sure to refrigerate after opening (even if processed in a hot-water bath).

Irene’s Sweet-and-Sour Pickles Irene’s Sweet-and-Sour Pickles
Making pickles perfectly is a science—but you can take a shortcut with this tried-and-true preparation.
Yield: makes 1 Quart


  • 8 small cucumbers
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 sprig dill
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar


  1. Wash cucumbers (halve or quarter lengthwise if they’re large), then place cucumbers in a basin and cover with a brine of 4 cups water and 6 tbsp. salt for 18-24 hours.
  2. Pour off brine. Arrange cucumbers (cut side out) in a dry sterilized 1-qt. canning jar, leaving about 1″ space at the top. Place garlic, dill, clove, bay leaf, and peppercorns in the jar.
  3. Heat equal parts white vinegar and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour over pickles, filling jar to within 1″ of lip. Clean rims, place lids on jars, and set aside to cool. Store refrigerated—or process in a hot-water bath for 5 minutes and store in a cool, dark place.