It never fails. No matter how carefully I continually harvest cucumbers from my garden, I always end up finding several that have hidden themselves and have grown to be as big as my arm. As those are discovered, I refrigerate them until I have enough to make a batch of these Red Hot Cinnamon “Apples” … so named because you would never guess these are actually cucumbers. Shhhh! Don’t give away the secret! My Grandmother always called them Christmas Pickles because they were ready to consume just as the holidays began. You’ll notice that more than likely, you’ll end up having some of the syrup leftover after filling the jars. Just allow it to cool completely, then refrigerate until you are ready to make a smaller batch with any plant stragglers as you finish harvesting for the season. You’ll find the Ball Pickle Crisp Granules with a bright green lid near the canning jar section of your store. It is a nice substitution for pickling lime.
Red Hot Cinnamon “Apples”
Yield: 6 pints
7 pounds medium to large cucumbers, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Ball Pickle Crisp Granules, divided
2 teaspoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon alum
3 cups distilled vinegar, divided
7 cups sugar
1 (8-ounce) package Red Hot Cinnamon Candies
1 cinnamon stick
Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of the center of the cucumbers. Cut the cucumbers into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. In a deep stock pot, dissolve 3 tablespoons of Pickle Crisp Granules in a quart of water. Add the cucumber slices and enough water to cover. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drain the cucumbers and rinse with cold water then drain again. Return the cucumbers to the stock pot and add the food coloring, alum, 1 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Pickle Crisp Granules and enough water to cover the cucumbers. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the stock pot from the heat, and carefully drain the hot liquid from the cucumbers. Warm and drain the mason jars and transfer the cucumbers to the jars.
Meanwhile, in a separate deep sauce pan, combine the sugar, 2 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of water, red hot candies, cinnamon stick and the remaining 1 teaspoon of Pickle Crisp Granules. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar and candies have dissolved completely. Carefully pour the hot syrup over the cucumber slices in the jars, allowing 1/2 inch of headroom in each jar. Wipe down the rim of the jars. Place a lid and screwband on each jar. Place the jars in a boiling water bath and process 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store the pickles in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks before enjoying.