Sweet Fermented Gherkins

Although this recipe requires more time, pickle lovers believe the distinctly tangy flavours that result from fermentation are well worth the wait.


  • 8 lb (3.6 kg) small 2-inch (2.5 cm) pickling cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pickling salt, divided
  • 8 cups (2000 ml) granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 cups vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) celery seed
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) whole mixed pickling spice
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) whole allspice
  • 2 sticks cinnamon


  • Place prepared cucumbers in a large, deep non-reactive pickling container. Dissolve 4 tbsp (60 ml) pickling salt in 24 cups (6000 ml) boiling water; pour over cucumbers. Let stand overnight.
  • 2nd day – drain cucumbers, discarding brine. Dissolve remaining pickling salt in 24 cups (6000 ml) boiling water; pour over cucumbers. Let stand overnight.
  • 3rd day – drain cucumbers, discard brine and prick cucumbers in several places. Combine 3 cups (750 ml) each of sugar and vinegar in a large, deep stainless steel saucepan with turmeric. Tie celery seed, pickling spice and cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Add spice bag to liquid and bring mixture to a boil. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers; weight and let stand 6 – 8 hours.
  • 4th and 5th day – reserving liquid, drain cucumbers. Add 2 cups (500 ml) sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) vinegar to reserved liquid. Bring mixture to a boil and pour over cucumbers; weight and let stand again overnight.
  • Preserving Day: Place the required number of clean 500 ml or 1 L mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Keep jars hot until ready to use.
  • Preheating Bernardin® lids is not advised. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs better at room temperature than it does pre-heated in simmering water (180°F). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed. Preheating can lead to less vacuum being achieved during water bath canning, and to buckle failures during pressure canning.
  • Reserving liquid, drain cucumbers one last time. Add 1 cup (250 ml) sugar and 1 cup vinegar to reserved liquid and bring to a boil.
  • Pack cucumbers into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top rim. Add hot liquid to cover cucumbers to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more hot brine. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining cucumbers and hot brine.
  • When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 500 ml jars: 10 minutes; 1 L jars: 15 minutes.*
  • When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.
  • After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.