Introduction: Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Pickles

About: Hands-on DIY lover and borderline crazy crafter. I love Halloween and creepy food.

One of the saddest parts of saying goodbye to Halloween has to be seeing all the left-over jack-o-lanterns on people’s doorsteps. Slowly deflating as they rot from the inside out, their once cheerful grins twisting into painful-looking grimaces, they’re an all too depressing reminder that our favorite holiday is once again behind us.

Luckily there is something you can do with those left-over gourds that, much like any good zombie story, will breathe new life into them…and make them delicious at the same time. I’m talking about spiced pumpkin pickles! A little sweet, a little sour and a whole lot delicious, this ridiculously easy recipe is a great way to keep your love for Halloween around just a little bit longer. Now to make this recipe you will of course need a pumpkin... Sugar Pie pumpkins are the best but really, with this recipe, just about any pumpkin will do. You can also use Butternut Squash or Acorn Squash! Just make sure if you really are using recycled jack-o-lanterns that you’ve thoroughly washed them and that there are no signs of mold or nibbles from neighborhood animals. When in doubt, use fresh pumpkin.) To secure your crown as the Pumpkin King (or Queen) and make your own spiced pumpkin pickles you will need:


  • 4 cups diced pumpkin flesh with the rind removed
  • 4 Cups water
  • 6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoonscitric acid
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods or ½ Tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken into 3 pieces each for a total of 6 pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon candied ginger, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

Step 1: All Hail the Pumpkin King!

Place your diced and peeled pumpkin into a large pot and add your water, apple, and white vinegar, lemon juice, and citric acid. Make sure the liquid fully covers all your pumpkin pieces. Stir well to mix.'
Put your pot into a cool dry place (a fridge works well, or in my case, since the weather is cold now, on the back porch) and allow to soak for 24 hours. You can get away with soaking them for less time, but the longer they soak, the crispier they stay through the whole pickling process.

Step 2: Boil Them, Mash Them, Stick Them in a Jar...

Once you’ve soaked your pumpkin pieces, add the rest of your ingredients to your pot and bring to a boil on the stove, stirring constantly.
Allow to boil until all your sugar is dissolved and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until your pumpkin pieces are just fork tender. Mmm…your house is gonna smell sooooo good! Strain your pumpkins (reserve the liquid) and divide up evenly between several sterilized jars (I found this recipe was just enough for 6 half-pint jars with a bit left over for me to snack on while I worked!)

Step 3: Patience Is a Virtue...

Fill each jar up with the still-hot strained pickle juice, making sure to add 2 cloves and 1 piece of cinnamon stick to each jar.

Because we’re not doing an official ‘water bath’ canning, we’re going to cheat the next few steps just a bit. Be aware these steps HAVE to be done immediately after filling each jar and while they’re still hot.

Cap each jar tightly and flip upside down and immediately place into the fridge to cool. As they cool, the caps will seal. (FYI: This isn’t an official ‘canned’ product and should not substitute for a proper canning technique if you plan on keeping these pickles for longer than 30 days or so, but after you’ve tried them, I doubt they’ll last that long anyway! If you plan on making these and storing them for longer, I strongly suggest properly canning them using a water bath technique.)

Once they’ve fully cooled, flip upright and allow your pickles to sit in the fridge for approximately 5 days, really soaking up the flavor of the brine.

After 5 days, pop them open and start enjoying! The cloves look like little eyeballs watching me every time I open the fridge door.

Step 4: But Wait...there's More!

For a truly decadent way to enjoy these little nuggets of left-over Halloween happiness and to really dazzle your guests this Thanksgiving, use your freshly made pumpkin pickles to make a perfectly adorable (and totally delicious) Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Pickles in Puff Pastry.

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