Homemade Sweet and Sour Pickles Recipe- Water Bath Canned and Refrigerator Pickles Method

My family and I love pickles. And for me, they're medicine of sorts, since I need to have a lot of salt (and on days that I don't manage to make my sports drink, I try to have pickles to supply me with salt). I was buying cans of pickles because I didn't plan ahead. But with the cheapest can of pickles costing me $2, and the ridiculously low price of cucumbers I've been seeing lately, at 10 cents a pound, I decided to make my own homemade pickles.

I have a few recipes on my blog already for cucumber pickles, both fermented dill pickles, and quick vinegar pickles, but to be honest, I far prefer my pickles to have some sweetness in them, and if I'm anyhow making pickles I'd rather make them sweet (which the equivalent in the store is even more expensive, almost 2 times the price).

I made this recipe already two times, because the first time I made it, it all got eaten up within the space of a week, since everyone in my family loved them. This second time, I made sure to double the recipe, and to save room in my refrigerator, I canned them so they'd be shelf stable. 

A bunch of years ago I canned pickles and they ended up becoming mushy, because I cooked them too long when water bath canning them, so I did so much reading before making these so that they'd be safely preserved while also keeping them crispy. Vinegar pickles only need to be processed for 10-15 minutes in a water bath, I learned. And they came out perfectly.

This pickling liquid is also great with other vegetables- I used it for pickling onions, cabbage, carrots, peppers, etc...

My costs were:
14.3 lbs cucumbers- $2.64
1 1/2 liters vinegar-$2.35
1/2 kilogram sugar- $0.65
Dill- 95 cents
(Salt and bay leaves were negligible amounts)

Total cost for the recipe? $6.59.

Yield was 13 jars, so $0.50 per jar, which is 1/4 the price of a regular can of pickles.

Of these, 10 of the jars were 1.5 times the size of the cans of pickles, 1 was 2 times the size, and 2 were the size of a regular can of pickles, which means that this really was like 19 cans of pickles. Which means that instead of $2 per can, they work out to be $0.35 per can. For much tastier pickles.

Absolutely, without a doubt, worthwhile. I am so tempted to just keep canning pickles like this so I never have to pay full price for pickles, and I don't know how long these prices for cucumbers will last... but my stockpile is getting full and I am going to run out of storage space...

I didn't use pickling cucumbers specifically, so I quartered my cucumbers so that they wouldn't be too wide and would get their flavor all the way inside. If you have small and thin enough cucumbers you can pickle them whole.

While in the past I have canned without canning tongs, for cucumber pickles you really should use canning tongs, because they'll allow you to put the jars gently into the pout filled with boiling water without dropping them onto the bottom or burning your fingers or needing to fill the pot with more water to cover them, making the pickles spend longer time in the water and increasing the likelihood of them turning mushy.

Homemade Sweet and Sour Pickles Recipe- Water Bath Canned and Refrigerator Pickles Method

Roughly 14 lbs cucumbers, which was 2 large produce bags filled with them
5 tablespoons salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar (I used white but apple cider vinegar is also ok)
1 bunch dill
Bay leaves


1. Put a bay leaf in the bottom of each jar.

2. Cut off both ends of the cucumber, trying to waste as little as possible, but making sure the very end is cut off, because the flowering end makes the pickle mostly likely to mush if left on, and the stem end simply isn't a good texture.

3. Quarter your cucumber into long spears, and cut off any part of the cucumber that comes within an inch of the top of the jar, or until the part where your jar tapers inward. Set aside whatever you cut off to make into another dish- I made this cucumber salad

4. Fill your jars with the cucumbers. I find laying the jars on their side while I stack them is easiest to get them all in and standing straight up.

5. Take a package of dill and shove some dill between your spears, so that the dill actually stays below the level of the cucumbers so they'll be below the pickling liquid. I fixed the sticking up dill after I took this picture.

6. Bring the pickling liquid to a boil.

7. At the same time, or ideally earlier even... fill your canning pot with water and bring to a boil. Because this takes a long time.

8. While this isn't necessarily required, I've already had two glass things break for me recently because of a sudden change in temperature, so I wanted to be on the safe side... I filled the bottom of a container with a mix of boiling water and cold water and put my jars into there to heat up, so that when I poured the boiling liquid there wouldn't be a sudden drastic change in temperature.

9. Pour the boiling pickle juice into the jar of cucumbers, making sure to cover the cucumbers entirely, but leaving a little headspace at the top of the jar. Cover your jars.

10. If making refrigerator pickles, cover these and leave them on the counter to cool off, before putting in the fridge. You can eat them the next day, but the flavor will intensify if you leave it in the fridge a few days.

11. If canning, once at a rolling boil, place your jars into your canning pot, making sure to cover the jars by an inch of liquid and bring it back to a boil. Covering pot makes this much faster.

12. Once at a rolling boil, set a timer for 10-15 minutes. (I got mixed results when finding out how long these needed, so I did 15 minutes, though I've read 10 is enough.)

13. Remove cans from your boiling water with tongs, and place them onto a towel to dry and cool. 

14. Let the cans sit until cool, and you should hear nice popping noises letting you know they are sealed.

15. If, after cooling, you can still press in the lid and they'll pop back out, they are not sealed, and you should put them in the fridge for some delicious refrigerator pickles. The rest can go on the shelf and they'll last a long time.


Do you make pickles or do you always buy? What are your favorite types of pickles? Salt pickles? Vinegar pickles? Sweet and sour ones? Does this look like a recipe you'd try, either refrigerator pickles or canned?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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