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Pickles are fun to make at home, and they go great with a variety of wild game recipes. Dill pickles are the obvious go-to pickle recipe—and for good reason: They’re delicious. But in case you’re game to try something new, here are some different—and delicious—pickle recipes to kick up your hunting or fishing sandwiches for when you head afield.
Before we begin, here are a few helpful tips that apply to pickling in general:
- Sterilize your jars by washing them with hot soapy water, rinsing well, and then heating them in a 225-degree oven for 20 minutes. Sterilize the jar lids by placing them in a pot with water and bringing to a boil, then reduce heat to low so water is kept hot but is not simmering.
- Using a mandoline to slice cucumbers and onions is quick and easy, and gives you consistent results. You could even try adding texture to the cucumbers by using a crinkle cut blade.
- Leave ½-inch headspace in each jar. That is, fill each jar with brine to within ½-inch of the top. If you overfill your jars, there will not be enough air space for the lids to seal.
- Remove trapped air bubbles from packed jars by sliding a butter knife or spoon handle down the edge of the jar to release any air.
Now, let’s pickle.
Million Dollar Pickles Recipe
The sweet brine, with a hint of turmeric and mustard, sets the stage for these crisp pickles, where you hunt for a cucumber, onion, and pepper in every bite. Sweet and tangy with a bit of a crunch, this pickle makes a great hot dog and burger topping, or even an accompaniment to steak. Try these with your next venison roast, and you might just have a new favorite wild-game condiment.
- 3 quarts cucumbers, sliced ⅛-inch or thicker
- 1 quart onions, sliced ⅛-inch or thicker
- 2 green peppers, diced small
- 2 red peppers, diced small
- ⅓ cup pickling or coarse salt
- Enough water to cover the vegetables
- Enough vinegar to cover the vegetables
- 6 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. dry mustard
- Mix the cucumbers, onions, and peppers in a large pot. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the pickles and add enough water to cover. Stir gently to dissolve the salt and let it stand overnight.
- In the morning drain all the water, then add enough vinegar to almost cover the vegetables. Add the sugar, turmeric, and dry mustard. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, but do not bring to a boil.
- Pack the pickles into sterilized jars while hot, and distribute any of the remaining brine into the jars. Secure the lids to the jar and allow them to seal as they cool. The pickles can be eaten right away, and the sample bowl usually empties quickly.
Slippery Jack Pickles
If you’ve ever picked cucumbers, you know there are always a few that manage to hide and grow large and yellow. This recipe makes good use of those large, overgrown cukes to create the most unique pickle in our pantry. The pickles take a week to make, but require little of your daily time. Treatments of boiling water turn the cucumbers almost translucent, but they still manage to maintain a satisfying snap. When eaten as a side with venison sausage, don’t be surprised if you empty the jar.
- 10-12 large, overgrown cucumbers (even if they are so mature they have turned yellow)
- 6 cups white sugar
- 2 Tbsp. pickling spice
- 5 tsp. pickling or coarse salt
- 4 cups white vinegar
- Day 1: Wash the cucumbers, then place them in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Leave them in the water until the next day.
- Day 2: Drain and cover again with boiling water. Leave them the water until the next day.
- Day 3: Drain and cover again with boiling water. Leave them in the water until the next day.
- Days 4-5: Drain the water. Peel the cucumbers, remove the seeds, then cut the cucumbers into ½- to 1-inch spears. Next, mix the sugar, pickling spice, and vinegar into a pot and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the cucumber spears and turn off the heat. Let them sit in the brine for two days.
- Day 6: Bring the mixture back up to boiling, watching the brine closely. As soon as the brine starts to bubble, reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Do not continue to boil and cook; you need only bring the temperature up so the jars will seal. Put the hot cucumbers into sterilized jars, distributing the remaining brine. Secure the lids and allow them to seal as they cool.
Happy Sandwich Zucchini and Onion Pickles
Zucchini get a bad rap from lots of folks, who often use them in cake or a pot of chili to hide the overgrown vegetable from a discerning palate. Embrace the zucchini and turn them into pickles with sweet or yellow onions. You won’t believe how they develop a crisp bite, making them ideal for a topping or a side dish with dinner. Cold venison roast or meatloaf sandwiches were made for these pickles.
- 16 cups zucchini, sliced thick
- 8 cups onions, sliced
- ½ cup pickling or coarse salt
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp. celery seeds
- 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
- 1 ½ tsp. white pepper
- In a large pot, sprinkle salt over the zucchinis and onions, then cover completely with ice cubes. Let them stand for 2 to 3 hours or until the slices appear crispy. Then drain.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven combine the vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, mustard seeds, and white pepper. Bring this brine to a boil for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and onions, and return the brine to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.
- Pack pickles in hot sterilized jars while they are hot, and distribute the remaining brine into the jars. Secure the lids to the jars and allow them to seal as they cool. Store in a cool place for one month before eating.
Hot Garlic Wax Bean Pickles
If you like dill pickles, you’re going to love these beans. They can be eaten on their own or used as a stir stick in your next Bloody Mary. Hate guessing how many jars of pickles your garden crop will make? I find it easier to mix up a whole batch of brine and store it in a jug to have on hand at a moment’s notice. That way, you can make up a smaller number of jars whenever the mood strikes and the brine will be ready and waiting. Pickle the beans as they are ready in your garden by reheating the brine.
Ingredients (for each quart jar)
- 9 cups water
- 3 cups vinegar
- ½ cup pickling or coarse salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 jalapeño peppers (or whatever chili peppers you have in your garden)
- 2 sprigs of fresh dill
- Yellow wax beans, or green pole/bush beans
- Make the brine: Boil the water, vinegar, and salt 5 minutes.
- Pack jars with the garlic and peppers, followed by the dill and lastly the stand beans. Pour the hot brine over the beans, and seal with the lids.
- Put jars in a canner of boiling water and process for 10 minutes. Then, remove jars from water and let cool on a wire rack and listen for the seal. The pickles are ready to eat in about two weeks.
Old-Country Mediterranean Fridge Pickles
If you’ve ever visited a Mediterranean market, these pickles might cause flashback. Grape and cherry leaves add flavor, and the mix of vegetables changes in ratio every time a new batch is prepared. This is a quick and easy recipe to make, with no processing, and you can start eating them within a few days. Of course, the longer you leave them, the more flavor the brine creates. Mix up a batch of brine and store it in a jug to have on hand at a moment’s notice, allowing you to make one or more jars whenever you have ingredients to fill a pint or quart jar.
Ingredients (for each pint jar)
- 8 cups water
- 4 cups vinegar
- ½ cup pickling or coarse salt
- Cucumbers, small ones left whole, or slice larger ones into spears
- Small zucchini, quartered into spears or sliced into medallions
- 1-2 grape leaves with tendrils (cut large and medium ones in half or quarters to fit pint jars)
- 4-5 young cherry tree leaves (we used Nanking cherry leaves)
- 1 sprig fresh dill
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Sliced onion (optional)
- ½ tsp coriander seeds (or red or white peppercorns)
- Make the brine: Boil the water, vinegar and salt for about 5 minutes, then let cool.
- Wash the grape and cherry leaves. Prepare each sterilized jar by putting a layer of grape and cherry leaves on the bottom, then pack the rest of the ingredients as they fit, layering the leaves once more in the middle.
- Fill packed jars with cooled brine, put on the sterilized lids, and refrigerate the jars. The pickles are ready after three days and should be kept in the fridge.