Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles

Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles
Visitor ratings: 4 (80%) 3 votes

Pickles! In five minutes of work!

Since we just got back from a vacation in Maine, we thought we’d try a dish associated with the Pine Tree State. This is a nice recipe for pickles, especially since it avoids all the downsides of making pickles; you know, the boiling vinegar, the canning jars, the steam from the canning kettle — thinking about all that makes you just want to buy pickles at the store, right? Wrong! As you’ll see.

This recipe was on the back page of the newsletter that we pick up at the CSA each week along with our produce. The front page has a bit of news about the farm, or our rancher, or information about a crop we’re getting in that week’s share, and the back usually includes some recipes that are appropriate for that week’s produce. The week we received pickling cucumbers, there was a recipe for Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles on the back. Looking it over, we noted that we had everything except the dry mustard, but we did have mustard seed. While we could’ve ground them into powder, we thought we’d just leave ’em whole. A nice thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to scale up or down, depending on how many cucumbers you have, and how many pickles you want to make. Since only one of us really enjoys pickles, we decided to make a single pint jar. So, let’s scratch up some pickles.

Makes 1 pint

Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles

Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles


  • 2 pickling cucumbers
  • 1 heaping Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 heaping Tbs yellow mustard seed
  • 1/2 heaping Tbs kosher salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Abbreviated Instructions

Wash and cut cucumbers into desired shapes (spears, slices).

Place in jar and add dry ingredients.

Fill jar 2/3 full of vinegar and add cold water to cover cucumbers.

Cover and shake.

Place in a conspicuous location for 24 hours and shake jar every time you pass by.



Ingredient discussion:

Use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with 5% acidity. The acidity of the vinegar is what keeps the cucumbers from spoiling, so you don’t want to change it willy-nilly. Use kosher or pickling salt, as these are only salt; no iodine or anti-caking agents, which can make your pickles cloudy or soft.


Wash and cut cucumbers. Select only firm cucumbers, and wash them well to the point that, if you got them at the store, you might want to place them in a colander and pour boiling water over the top to remove any applied wax. We went with the traditional spears.

Pack jar. Don’t pack them in too tightly; you’ll be adding other ingredients in just a bit, so you need some space. And, if need be, trim back your spears so that you’ll have no problem covering them with liquid, and still be able to give the jar a vigorous shake. For only a pint, you might have some cucumber left over. Put it to good use. Or make another jar.

Place the cucumber slices in the jar, add the dry ingredients, and you’re halfway through making pickles.

Add dry ingredients. Just measure directly into the jar. Since you’ll be shaking the jar in a bit, it isn’t going to matter which goes in first.


Add vinegar and water. Pour in vinegar until the jar is 2/3 full, then fill the rest of the way with water.

Add the vinegar and water, shake occasionally over the next 24 hours, and you’re through making pickles. Easy.

Shake and infuse. Cover the jar and give it a good shaking to dissolve the salt and sugar. Now, set it in a very conspicuous place. We set ours on the cutting board right at the end of the counter. For the next 24 hours, every time you walk by the jar, pick it up and give it a good shaking.


Refrigerate. After 24 hours, your pickles are done; place them in the refrigerator to chill, and test them out.

That’s really simple, isn’t it? It makes you wonder why people would bother to buy pickles, or at least it makes us wonder. After all, using this, or the super easy microwave pickles, you can pretty much have pickles anytime you have cucumbers, with no added colors or chemicals that you don’t understand — just pure pickle goodness. Overall, these pickles are pretty good — spicy with a sweet aftertaste — especially when you consider how little effort they take. Four stars.

Worth the trouble?

6 Replies to “Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles”

  1. They fa-got the sliv-ahs of gah-lic!

    In 1962 my uncle Tom Gillant (mexico, me.) told me his mustard pickle recipe… I was 6 at the time. So yes, it is an old Maine recipe. He did can them, need to wait 6 weeks for the mustard to set; sug-ah optional.

    1. There is no doubt that garlic would go nicely in these pickles — good suggestion. But, we think that the best part about them (with or without the garlic) is that they are so easy to make. And you can make just a small batch: which is perfect for just the two of us.


  2. If we’d like to stick with the original recipe and use mustard powder instead of the mustard seed are the amounts the same that you used or is it a different measurement? Can these be canned or would this somehow destroy something about the pickles?

    1. Realize that if you use mustard powder you’ll have a cloudy brine which may be unappealing. I’d probably suggest either leaving out the mustard seeds or replacing them with something you do have, perhaps 1/2 tsp celery seeds, or a few allspice berries, or half a dozen cloves, or 1 or 2 bay leaves.

      As far as canning, I *believe* it would be okay with the amount of vinegar in the recipe, but the pickles would probably be softened by the canning process. If you are planning on canning pickles, I would really try to find a recipe specifically for canning pickles for safety reasons. Such a recipe will ensure there is enough acidity to prevent botulism or other problems. You can never be too safe when putting up food.


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