Sweet Mustard Pickles
Today’s post is a bit different from... well, everything I’ve ever posted on this blog.
It’s a recipe that I find SO violently offensive, I gag at the photos we took of it. I’m not even exaggerating.
Now, I am not a picky eater, and my tastebuds don’t offend easily.
I love haggis!
I routinely cook with chicken livers or hearts!
I make amazing chicken stock with chicken feet (I don’t let hubby see them, as HE gets grossed out!).
But sweet pickles? Just sweet pickles in general?
Instant gag reflex.
I have to ask “sweet or not?” whenever I order a burger, a sneak-sweet-pickling will end badly. Just an instant reject, before I even have a chance to realize what happened!
... and that goes at LEAST double for sweet mustard pickles... which are in a thick, starchy sauce.
Sweet Mustard Pickles
When I was living in Newfoundland, sweet mustard pickles were a BIG DEAL.
They were everywhere, and seemed to be served with everything. Jigg’s dinner, moose, rabbit, burgers, etc.
Newfoundlanders are SERIOUS about their mustard pickles.
In 2016, the main brand available on the island was discontinued, and people lost their minds. It was referred to as "the great pickle crisis" - people rushed to grocers and bought up all they had.
Social media was flooded with photos of empty store shelves, there were mustard pickle scalpers - no, I’m not making this up! - and more.
They are SUCH a cultural standard out there, that they HAD to be included in More Than Poutine.
As you may know, More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land was written while I was living in the US, and was partially intended as a love letter not only to my country, but specifically to expats.
I knew how hard it was to access some Canadian favourites, and I knew how soul-lifting that access to those comfort foods could be, when living away.
... and I knew how much East Coasters loved these pickles.
The Recipe Development Adventure
My ability to replicate by taste came in handy when writing More Than Poutine, and the development of most of the book was an absolute pleasure.
Let me tell you... cloning something that you can't even keep in your mouth due to reflexes is an *adventure*! There were tears, LOL.
It was the first and only time I’ve ever had to reproduce a food that I can’t stand. I remember sitting at my desk with a bottle of the source material, messaging a friend for the fortitude to just OPEN the jar.
I’d been stalling on working on that recipe, but had one of my problem-solving dreams (nightmare?) the night before, wherein I figured out how I would replicate the texture (*hurk*) and all.
... I woke up thinking I had the taste in my mouth. UGH. It was obviously time to just do it.
There were tears involved - Autistic food aversion is a big deal! - but in the end, I nailed it... and made some local Newfoundlander friends VERY happy.
One ALSO cried when she tried them, though for an entirely different reason, LOL. She declared herself willing to take any and all future jars of sweet mustard pickles off my hands, right on the spot!
No matter my own personal feelings on these pickles, I always love helping people access foods they love, like this.
I hope this hasn’t come off like “Yucking someone else’s yum”, I just find the whole experience to have been hilarious!
Homemade Sweet Mustard Pickles
I designed this recipe to be very similar to that original mustard pickle, the one that was involved in the Great Pickle Crisis.
Homemade mustard pickles generally use flour, whereas the store-bought source material uses corn starch.
Neither is actually recommended for home canning, for various reasons - both safety and performance.
So, I used a product called "Clear Jel", as I don't want anyone getting botulism! It’s a type of specially refined corn starch, specifically designed for this purpose.
I’ve been informed that the onions - or cauliflower - are “THE BEST” part of these pickles... though the opinion obviously varies based on who’s giving it!
If you really love your onions or cauliflower in this, feel free to tinker with the ratios of the veggies - just aim for approximately the same final volume!
For the MOST authentic sweet mustard pickles, you'll want to use a wavy cutter for slicing the cucumbers.
Mine was part of a ~15 year old food garnishing set, but there are a lot of options out there.
This recipe is one of many fantastic Canadian recipes in my cookbook, "More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land”. "More than Poutine" is a Canadian cookbook like no other - written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional home cooking recipes, as well as accurate homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada! Order your copy here on this site, through Amazon, or through any major bookseller!
Share the Love!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense.
Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Anyway, after that *glowing* review of mine... let’s get to that Sweet Mustard Pickles recipe, eh?
Just, you know, fair warning: If you're not into sweet pickles, steer clear of this recipe!
Sweet Mustard Pickles
- Wash all vegetables. Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets, peel the cocktail onions, and slice cucumbers into ¾-1" thick slices. If you have a wavy slicer, feel free to use that for authenticity!
- Fill your LARGE pot with at least 6" of water, put on medium or high heat to bring it to a boil as you prepare your brine.
- In another pot (NOT the canning pot!), combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard powder, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring well to dissolve the salt.
- As brine is coming to a boil, cut two large squares from the cheesecloth, stack on top of each other. Measure the pickling spice into the center of the cheesecloth, draw edges of cloth in to enclose the spices, tie into a tight little package with the twine.
- Once brine comes to a boil, add spice package and boil for 10-15 minutes, to taste.
- Once it tastes right to you, remove the spice packet. Add vegetables, stir well, and boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove a little of the brine, mix Clear Jel into it until smooth. Add a little more brine if necessary to get it to a pourable consistency, add it all back into the pot and stir well. Boil for 5 more minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat off.
- Use a sterilized canning funnel and sterilized ladle to scoop pickles and sauce into sterilized canning jars, leaving about ½" head space.
- Wipe off the top edges of the jar with a clean, wet towel, top each with a new, sterilized lid, and carefully screw on a clean lid ring. I like to use a kitchen towel for this, the jars are HOT!
- Carefully place your jars of pickles into the boiling water pot, allow to process for 15 minutes. CAREFULLY remove them, allow to cool overnight.
- The next morning, check to make sure that all of the jars achieved a proper seal – try to push down in the middle of each lid. If it “pops”, it did not seal.
- Any jars that didn’t seal should be put in the fridge and used in the next few weeks. Store in a cool, dark area (ideally) for up to 1 year, chill well before eating.