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Recipe for Great Grandma Howlett’s Sour Mustard Pickles

Great Grandma Howlett's Sour Mustard Pickles

  • Servings: approximately 20-24 quarts
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  • 1/2 bushel medium-sized (2 to 3 inches) pickling cucumbers
  • 20-24 sterilized standard quart canning jars and lids

Pickling Solution (note–in order to make 20-24 quarts of pickles, you will need to make about 5 batches of pickling solution):

  • 1/2 cup pickle salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 1 quart water
  • alum for the tops of jars


Wash pickling cucumbers and soak whole cucumbers for 24 hours in a solution of half vinegar and half water to cover.  This is the soaking solution only.

After soaking, remove cucumbers from soaking solution and chop the cucumbers into chunks and place in sterilized canning jars. Place one teaspoon of alum on the top of each jar of cucumbers. Make pickling solution by mixing pickle salt, sugar, mustard and turmeric.  In a 2 quart measuring bowl, place mixed dry ingredients.  Then slowly pour in the quart of vinegar and quart of water.  Stir well, stirring out any lumps.  Carefully pour pickling solution into each quart jar of pickles, filling to the top.  You may need to stir a couple times in between pouring.  Mix additional batches of the pickling solution until all jars are full of cucumbers and pickling solution.  Put sterilized tops and lids on canning jars and close tightly.  Let stand in a cool, dry place for at least three weeks before using.  Refrigerate jar after opening.  Enjoy!


  1. rachwalker

    I’ve been dabbling with pickling more and more recently, but have never done mustard pickles. Sounds like a great variation though. Have bookmarked this, and definitely going to give it a go. Thanks!

    • dragonflyhome

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the pickles!

      • b newman

        Will the jars seal? I have made numerous pickles, but never ones that you do not boil the solution!

      • Jenny

        Hi, sorry for the delayed response! For some reason, I am seeing this comment just today. Yes, if you use canning jars with new canning lids and screw the tops on tightly, they will seal. With so much vinegar in the solution, we have always had good results with the pickles being good and crunchy. 🙂

      • Andrew York

        No mention of boiling the pickling solution?

      • Jenny

        Hi Andrew, no, we don’t boil the solution in this recipe.

  2. Ed

    My grandmother made pickles and put in a bowl in her fridge and we would grab one when ever we wanted. This looks like the juice she made but she didn’t can them. Would I need to?

  3. Melody Derr

    It says to put a tablespoon of alum on the top of the jar I’m not sure what that means like around the edges of the jar on top of the pickles this is my first time doing this so I don’t know what I’m doing if you could please help

    • Jenny

      Hi Melody, just put the teaspoon (remember it’s a teaspoon and not a tablespoon) of alum on top of the pickles. Then when you screw the top on the jar, you can gently turn the jar upside down a couple times to distribute all the ingredients. Best of luck and have fun! Let me know if you have more questions!

  4. Cassie Ledger

    Can I do spears instead of chips?

    • Jenny

      Hi Cassie, sure, I think spears would be fine. The reason we do chips is probably because these pickles are pretty strongly flavored and a small bite goes a long way.😊 But you could always cut the spears when serving, if you decided you wanted to.

  5. Katelyn

    Do you do white vinegar or apple cider vinegar?

    • Jenny

      Hi Katelyn, we use white vinegar.

  6. Tammy Mowery

    So you discard the soaking solution and use fresh vinegar and water for the pickle jars, correct?

    • Jenny

      Hi Tammy, yes that’s correct.😊

  7. Sondra McAdams

    I am going to make these for the first timel and I am kinda nervous. My 1st question is when you are soaking in vinegar water solution for the 24 hrs does this need to be done in the frig or can they be on the counter? 2nd question it stated that you would need to make 5 batches of the solution so I’m guessing each batch should make about 5 jars is that right? This is the closest recipe I’ve seen to what my grandma used to make, its been 30+ years since I’ve had hers and I can still taste them

    • Jenny

      Hello Sondra, you can soak the cucumbers at room temperature. And yes, you are right, about 5 jars per batch of solution, depending on if you use wide mouth jars or not. I’m sorry for the delayed response! I hope you enjoy these pickles and I hope they taste like your grandma’s. Thanks so much for the questions. Hope all goes well!

  8. Sondra McAdams

    When you are soaking pickles for the 24 hrs does this need to be done while refrigerated or is room temp. Ok.

  9. Sondra McAdams

    Do you do the 24 hr soak at room temp or do they need to be in the frig?

  10. Cyril

    I’m hoping I can soak the cucumbers as spears because I ended up cutting them up not remembering I should be chopping after they soak. Is this gonna be ok? Thnx!

    • Jenny

      Hi Cyril, sorry for the late response, I’m not sure, as I’ve never made the pickles that way. If you did end up soaking the cucumbers after cutting them, let me know how it worked!

  11. Theresa Johnson

    Tried this and I didn’t like it! Too sour for me… nothing like my Gramma’s pickles

    • Jenny

      Sorry you didn’t enjoy the pickles, they definitely are sour and powerful, though some love that flavor.

  12. Melanie Karen Weidt

    My Grandma used to make these and I couldn’t get enough. They will turn you outside but definitely addictive.

    • Jenny

      Yes, they are addictive! So fun to know your grandma made them too!

  13. Babs McNeely

    I’m hoping you’ll see this question……
    You’ve said there’s no need to WB the jars. Can it be done anyway? The thought of making anyone sick scares me.

    • Jenny

      Hello, in our experience the vinegar keeps everything safe. As long as the jars and lids are clean to begin with, it should be fine.

    • Jenny

      Hello, it’s fine if you would prefer to do the WB anyway.

  14. Amy

    How long is it before jars seal? I’ve had some sitting in the basement that took over a week to seal, are they still good? I never remember having this issue last year and I use your recipe faithfully! But this year it seems none of them want to seal for me.

    • Jenny

      Hi Amy, with this recipe, the jars don’t have to seal. So they should still be good!

      • Amy

        So they are totally fine on the shelf without sealing?

        last year every one of them sealed on their own so this year I was panicked thinking I screwed something up! These quickly became a family favorite, and everyone has been asking how my cuke patch has done and how many jars I’ll be able to do this year.

  15. Jenny

    Hi Amy, as long as the jars and lids were clean and the pickles are refrigerated after opening, they should be fine. We’ve never had a problem with them. I’m glad that your family likes these pickles! 😊


    I have had these and they are AMAZING !!!enjoying a jar as we speak !

    • Jenny

      Hi Jessica, so glad you enjoy them! 😊

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