Spicy Cucumber Pickles

January is a beautiful time of year here on the Granite Belt in Queensland and I spend as much time as I can out in the garden. There is a lot to do this time of year with grass to be cut, flowers to be deadheaded, and watering to do now that the rains have stopped. Right now the first pickling cucumbers are ready to pick and there are plenty of them. You have to watch their progress closely, otherwise, you will have some hiding away that end up huge. Not to worry, they are perfect in salads if they get too big to pickle.

While I have plenty of books with recipes, I tend to use what I have on hand, rather than sticking to a strict recipe. If you do this, just be sure that you keep the acidity the same as these recipes will be written with food safety in mind. Remember, cucumbers are a low-acid food and must have their pH reduced to below 4.6 on the pH scale to be safely preserved. New to pickling; no problem; follow my recipe and all will be well.


  • 4 x 1 litre jugs of sliced cucumbers
  • 2 large green jalapenos
  • 1/4 cup of salt

Vinegar mixture

  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • ¼ cup of gin
  • 1 cup of sugar

Combine the following spices in a bag

  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of whole allspice
  • 4 teaspoons of yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cloves


  • Prepare your 500 ml jars and lids by sterilising them in boiling water for ten minutes.
  • The sterilisation step can be skipped and you can use washed, rinsed, hot jars if you are processing for 10 minutes or more in the boiling water bath at the end of the recipe.
  • Combine cucumbers, jalapenos, and salt. Cover with ice cubes and let stand for 3 hours
  • Drain the mixture
  • Combine the vinegar, gin, sugar, and spice bag in a pot – stir and bring to boiling, letting all the sugar dissolve.
  • Add the drained cucumber and heat for 5 minutes.
  • Using a ladle and jar funnel, place your pickle into your hot, 500 ml jars, leaving a one-and-a-half centimetre headspace.
  • Clean the rims of the jar, to ensure you get a good clean seal, and cap with your new lids. I reuse my jars many times, but I always use new lids.
  • Process your filled jars in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary. Remember, the larger the jar, the longer you need to process.
  • Once the processing time is achieved, remove the jars using your jar lifter and allow them to cool on the kitchen counter.
  •  Be sure to label them with their contents and the date before you put them into your pantry.

These pickles are sensational. I thought they looked good, but I was blown away when I tasted them. Must have been the Gin.

My lunch? Homemade bread with homemade Stirred Curd Cheddar and spicy cucumber pickles.

A big thank you to Kaston for planting 25 cucumber plants and to Vicky for her time picking and of course, for the Gin.

As always, live well.


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10 Replies to “Spicy Cucumber Pickles”

  1. hi
    can you tell me please can i do this recipe without the chillies and will it still store as well and for as long ? i’m new to preserving etc and have cucumbers and garlic i want to start off preserving but keep putting it off feeling like i’ll bugger it up🤷‍♀️
    i did try yrs ago with the pop top glass jars in the shallow water method with tomatoes and i ended up finding mould in the top of them (kept in the fridge)
    i’m thinking i probably made a basic mistake but it scared me off trying again
    any info would be great thank you x

  2. Hello Valerie

    I am new to preserving and recently read that Australian vinegar is only 4% acidity and is not appropriate to use with pickling. Do you use a specific brand of vinegar? Do you agree with what I read?

    1. Hello Sharon,

      The vinegar I use is Cornwell’s. It is available in the IGA in Stanthorpe, so if you can get it here, you should be able to get it anywhere. It specifically says it is 5% on the bottle.

      I am also not sure I agree with what you have read. I use Cornwell’a because of the quality. If it were true that Australian vinegar is not suitable for pickling, that would mean that there was no way to safely pickle in Australia. I tend to think that this is unlikely. There are plenty of Australian-made pickles and hundreds of thousands of people picking at home. Could it be true that all this is being done in an unsafe manner? If the percentage is not listed on the bottle of the brand you want to use, you can contact the manufacturer. It is unlikely that Cornwell’s is the only brand that is 5% or above.

      If you only have 4% vinegar available, you could consider using a larger quantity to compensate for the lower acidity. Or you could add a little citric acid. The important thing is that your pickle needs to be below 4.6 on the pH scale. If you are not sure. you should test with a reliable pH strip.


    1. Yes, you can reduce the sugar. Try adding less, then tasting it. Be sure to keep the vinegar the same so you keep your acidity in the safe range.


  3. Hi Valerie, I was wondering if the salt and ice bath is to help stop the pickles getting soft? I have had a problem with sliced pickles going mushy but have never put salt with the ice. If I have a favourite recipe that uses salt in the brine should I use that amount in the ice bath and omit from brine?
    I too have been told about the 4% Australian vinegar issue when doing an American Canning course. I mainly use CWA recipes and was told by my instructor they are untested/unsafe. I usually use the supermarket 4% vinegars as I find 5% near impossible to find ( except Apple cider vinegar) and ended up buying a pH probe, all my preserves ended up testing well below 4.6. It’s very hard to find scientifically tested Australian recipes.

    1. Hello,

      Yes, the salt helps keep the pickles form. I cannot speak for someone else’s recipe, just my own, as I do them multiple times to get them right and test for salt levels and pH. You may also want to try adding calcium chloride. There is a product in the US called Pickle Crisp. When I looked at the ingredients, it is just calcium chloride, which is available in Australia here:

      And here:


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