Introduction: Use Your Overgrown Cucumbers! (Candied Cinnamon Pickles)

Picture of Use Your Overgrown Cucumbers! (Candied Cinnamon Pickles)

A few years ago I was "shooting the breeze" with my neighbor about our gardening adventures that year. She mentioned that while away on vacation her cucumbers became overgrown and she had to sadly throw them to the birds. Upon hearing this I cried inside...o.k. not really... but I don't like hearing about perfectly good food going to waste, especially if it can be used to make something fantastically delicious! I then shared this family recipe with her to make good use of those monster cucumbers. I've decided to also share it here on instructables in hopes to save countless cucumbers from a bird pecked death!

Candied Cinnamon Pickles involve a several day process, but they are worth the wait. They are a sweet & sour taste combination, with a little bit of heat. They taste very similar to a candied apple, and as a child I ate these like candy.  I've also heard them be called Christmas Pickles because they are a lovely red color & make perfect Christmas gifts. So don't throw those whoppers out, gift them away!

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Picture of Gather Supplies

This was a recipe I was "playing close to the vest" because it's been handed down for many generations in our family but through recent research I see there are others who make the same or similar thing so I don't feel as guilty sharing it.(The cat is already out of the bag) To make these pickles you will need:

Crisping Solution:
*2 gallons of overgrown cucumbers (about 8-10 large ones)
1 cup pickling lime (NOT PICKLING SALT) 
1 tsp. Alum
2 cups vinegar NOTE:It has since been discovered that mixing the lime & vinegar can be a food safety issue. Like I said, this is an OLD recipe. So you can just replace the vinegar with water if you wish. In generations of making these we have never had any problems with it of course, but just thought I'd give the disclosure. 

Candy Syrup :
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
10 cups sugar
16 oz. red hots (I've used anywhere from  14 oz - 20 oz)
8 sticks of cinnamon
OPTIONAL: Red food coloring

5 gallon food storage bucket for pickling them in (If you are concerned about using the plastic use glass containers. Again, this is just our OLD SCHOOL method)

Jars, lids, & bands for canning (about a 8 pints) 
Water bath canner

Step 2: Preparing the Pickles (DAY 1)

Picture of Preparing the Pickles (DAY 1)

*Peel & slice cucumbers in half length wise, then using a spoon scrape the seeds out of the center. Slice the hollowed cucumber “boats” into 1/2 in slices. Creating crescent shaped pickles.

SIZE DOES MATTER! You can see the importance of using the overgrown cucumbers for this recipe. The overgrown cucumbers have a nice thick boarder of flesh. A regular sized cucumber has a thinner boarder & is much smaller in size. It's important to have those thick large slices so they don't break apart easily during the process & so they are a good finger food size for eating later. The bigger the better!

Now put your 2 gallons worth of cucumber slices in your 5 gallon bucket. Mix together your crisping solution & pour it over your slices. Add enough water to the mix until your slices are completely covered. Put your lid on the bucket & let it sit for 24 hours. 

Step 3: Candying the Pickles (DAY 2-5)

Picture of Candying the Pickles (DAY 2-5)

The next day you will drain & rinse the pickles THOROUGHLY. It is important to remove all the excess pickling lime. You will also need to rinse out your bucket thoroughly too! Then pour the pickles back into the bucket cover them again with fresh, clean, cold water. Now let it sit for 2 hrs.

Repeat this drain, rinse, fill, & sit for 2 hrs process a total of 3 times. This insures that all the excess lime is washed away. 

Now drain & rinse your pickles then put them in a large stockpot. Once again covering them with water. Bring the water to a boil & then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer them for 2 hrs. (add more water as needed to keep the pickles covered) 

Next, drain & rinse them again & dump them back into your bucket. This time you will prepare your candy syrup to cover them with. 

To prepare the candy syrup, combine your syrup ingredients in a pot. Bring it to a boil & continue to boil it until all your red hot candies are melted. (You can also add extra red food color if you would like but I don't feel it's necessary) Once the candies are all dissolved into the syrup, pour the boiling syrup onto your pickles. Close up your bucket & let it sit for 24 hours. The syrup will settle over time, so you will strain off the syrup, reboil it, add it back to the pickles, and let it sit again. This process is repeated a total of 3 times (you do the candy syrup for 3 total days)

Step 4: Preserving Your Pickles

Picture of Preserving Your Pickles

After the candying process is complete your pickles are finished and ready to be preserved. To do this you will need to prep & set out your jars (about a 8 pints) bands & lids. 

Bring the pickles & syrup together to a boil & turn it down to simmer while you quickly fill your jars (you don't want to take too long & overcook your pickles but you want them to be nice & hot when they are poured in the jars). I have found the best way to fill your jars is to use a slotted spoon to scoop out the pickles into each jar first. Then ladle the boiling syrup into each jar afterwards, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Doing it this way is relatively mess free & insures you get a good amount of pickles into each jar. 

Add the lids & bands. Then process your pickles in a 15 minute water bath. 

There you have it! OLD FASHIONED candied cinnamon pickles! To serve them drain away the syrup and dump them in a candy dish, or eat them straight from the jar. They are very crisp, and delicious, and enjoyed by people young & old. I think this is one of those classic recipes everyone should try at least once. ENJOY!


tara.sturgis.94 (author)2015-04-17

My grandmas neighbor made these once when I was younger and they were amazing.
Anyways I was wondering if the water bath at the end was suppose to be hot or cold.
I can't wait to try this for myself!

Yes! Old School Rules! It's a HOT water bath. I'm referring to water bath canning

Ok I will have to look that up, I have never canned anything before so this will be interesting. I'm super excited to try this as I have 4 huge pickling cucumber plants in my garden.

jubal19 (author)2015-04-28

I should have commented last summer when I made these, but Thank You. I couldn't find Mom's recipe, if it still exists, but yours is so similar (and more crunchy) that it doesn't matter. They turned out great and well worth the work and the time. I have been rationing them and still have one jar left.

Thank you again.

mommasliltimberwolf (author)2014-10-18

I made these last week about to make more this week. oh so good but if u eat to many u get a tummy ache.

Yes, they are pretty easy to "overdose" on! :)

Great_Grandmas_Lil_Cook (author)2013-10-19

I'm so happy I could cry right now. My great grandmother used to make these all the time and when she got around 97 years old she stopped, she forgot the recipe and when she passed away at 103 in May this year I thought all hope was lost of me ever having these treats again. Nobody else in my family knew the right way to make them (not even my grandma). You have just made my whole year with this thank you so much!!!

That's so wonderful! I think it's sad when great recipes get "lost" through the generations. I'm glad that I can help you preserve a family tradition & treat. :)

fretted (author)2012-12-20

You can force the redness into the cukes by pressure cooking them for ten minutes or so in the mason jar just remember the more pressure the softer the pickles unless you alum them heavily

mygibzone (author)fretted2012-12-23

Yes, that would work too. Just from the candies & the soaking process they turn red anyways. I left the food coloring optional because I like the color without it but It's all just preference. Thanks for the post & Have a fantastic Holiday season!

bajablue (author)2012-04-30

Ok... I faved this because I have just GOT to try it... but do the cukes have to be huge? Will regular-sized cukes work?

mygibzone (author)bajablue2012-04-30

Regular sized ones will work. For this "ible" I used regular sized store bought ones because It's not exactly cucumber season right now. :) They tend to break apart easier through all the processing so you have to be gentler. Plus they won't be as crisp because they cook faster. Maybe just simmer them for about 1 hour instead of 2.

rickharris (author)2012-04-30

we may be a bit Quirky in the UK but cucumbers here are around a foot to 18 inches long! We slice them to eat with salads. Weird!

mygibzone (author)rickharris2012-04-30

It's always interesting to see what others are doing around the world. There are all sorts of different kinds of cucumbers. Each have characteristics that make them preferable for different things. Last year I grew lemon cucumbers, which wouldn't work well for this recipe, but they made some fantastic relish. If you want to try this recipe try to find a variety of cucumber that is very fleshy without many seeds, or try it with watermelon rinds (something I'm planing on experimenting with), but I'm not sure they would turn out as crisp. Happy Creating in the UK! :)

KohdCilver (author)2012-04-29

My family makes these all the time. They are so amazing. I can eat a whole mason jar of these things in under and hour not even trying. And for the record, I dislike pickles quite a bit, but these things are just great.

mygibzone (author)KohdCilver2012-04-30

I'm not a pickle or a cinnamon fan either, but I love these things!

Stonehopper (author)2012-04-30

We have made these in the past only our recipe called them Mock Apple Rings.

WhiteLiger (author)2012-04-29

My grandmother used to make these when i was a kid. There are fabulous. Thanks for posting.

bajablue (author)2012-04-29

You're a certifiable GENIUS, Gib...

These look and sound delicious!!!

mygibzone (author)bajablue2012-04-29

Thank you! I can't take all the credit. It's a family tradition. I'll chalk it up to an awesome up-bringing. :)

suayres (author)2012-04-29

They sound yummy. Do they have a crispy texture, or are they soft, like pickled watermelon rind (also yummy) or "slippery pickles" (yet another yummy, which goes back many generations on my Dad's side of the family)?

mygibzone (author)suayres2012-04-29

They are very CRISPY. I've considered trying to apply this recipe to watermelon rinds to see how it would work out but haven't attempted it yet. I Haven't ever heard of the slippery pickles so I'm not sure what those are like, but these are not slippery in texture if that's what you are asking. I guess you could say they have the crunch & texture of a fresh cucumber only with a sweet & sour cinnamon flavor absorbed into them.

jessyratfink (author)2012-04-29

This sounds so crazy! I've never heard of these. They're very pretty, and I bet they would be really refreshing. :)

mygibzone (author)jessyratfink2012-04-29

They are very good, especially if you are a cinnamon fan! I just like being able to make good use of even the really large cucumbers from my garden.

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