Fresh Pickles: Old-Fashioned Barrel Cukes

Right around the time I started this blog, there were two new culinary revelations in my life: Homemade pickles and fresh buttercream frosting. Pickles and Cake was born!

I needed more guidance so a pickle recipe book was in order. I started searching on Alibris and low and behold, Chris Schlesinger had published a book called Quick Pickles. My hero! The book simplifies pickling and the recipes cover pickles from around the world.

Chris Schlesinger’s The Back Eddy in Westport, MA is the perfect place to end up after a day at the beach or an afternoon of wine tasting at Westport Rivers Vineyard. The food is fantastic and every meal starts with a pickle sampler on the table. Chris is the author of my favorite cookbook Thrill of the Grill – the stories and insight jump off the page and the recipes will change the way you grill forever.

Old Fashioned Barrel Cukes

I modified the Kick-Ass Westport River Barrel Cukes recipe from Schlesinger’s book. You will never find a pickle at the supermarket with this authentic flavor-packed pickle barrel flavor. The fresh horseradish made the difference. The grape/oak leaves aren’t necessary but will keep the pickles crisp for a longer period of time – we ate ours so fast, we didn’t even need them.


4 pounds small cucumbers
5 small red chiles
1 large head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
1 cup peeled, grated fresh horseradish
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced into small wedges
1 generous handful fresh dill fronds/heads
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
2 tablespoons craked coriander seed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
3 crushed bay leaves
8 cups water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
6 tablespoons of kosher salt
1 handful of grape or oak leaves (optional)

Combine cucumbers, chiles, garlic, horseradish, onion, dill, mustard seed, coriander seed, peppercorn, bay leaves and grape leaves in a extra-large crock or bowl.

In a seperate bowl combine water, vinegar and salt to make the brine. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pour in the brine.

I used a crock to pickle the cukes but the large bowl will work. Place the right-sized plate or saucer over the cukes and weight it down with a can or jar. The object is to completely submerge the cucumbers.

Cover with a clean cloth and keep it in the darkest corner of your kitchen counter out of the sun for 5 to 7 days. Make sure the contents are submerged at all times.

Skim off any foam that has formed on the surface of the brine and transfer to the fridge.

The pickles will be ready in about a week but taste great even on the third day. We tried one every day and it was fun to taste the change. Reach into that pickle jar and grab a good one!

We made 4 different kinds of pickles so far this summer and these were the hands down favorite. Crunchy, salty and packed with flavor – every sandwich’s best friend.

Sadie loves the extra-crunchy small ones the best.