Grandma Shelton's Rebrined Pickles
Updated: Apr 10
My mother-in-law, Carolyn Shelton – "Grandma Shelton" to our kids - made these pickles for as long as I knew her, having gotten the recipe from her mom!
I hesitated to even try them at first, because I don't like dill pickles, which these started out as, and I just didn't think these could be transformed that much. But I'm SO glad I did, as these pickles are delicious! They have turned many a pickle hater into a pickle lover! (Seriously! ~ They really are that good!)
But my mother-in-law was an awesome cook, so it's not really that amazing that I would try something she made just because she made it.
By way of introduction, this is her in about 1981 with our two oldest kids, Sharnessa and Tory. (She passed away in the Fall of 2016.)
I'm actually the one who named these "Rebrined Pickles, because they are actually rebrined. They begin their pickley little lives as dill pickles, (well, as cucumbers, but in the pickle world they were dill pickles,) but you literally discard the brine they come in, and start over with a whole new brine! It took me about a hundred times longer to take and edit the pictures than it takes to make a batch of these. Seriously, they are SO fast and easy to make! 10 minutes max!
But then you have to wait a week before the rebrining process is complete. If you want just the simplified recipe, go to the bottom of this page.
Here's the sooooo-easy recipe plus plenty of pictures for you visual learners (and those of you who just enjoy pickle pictures!)
1 46-ounce jar of whole dill pickles (either baby dills or regular; with garlic or without; either works)
1 cup of vinegar (Regular or apple cider vinegar work equally well.)
3 cups of white sugar
Those last two ingredient amounts might seem backwards, but that’s correct! It's basically a sweet 'n' sour syrup.
Here's everything, measured out:
1) Open the jar of pickles. Carefully. At my age, this can be a bit of a challenge, so make sure you don't strain your hand doing this, as you will need it for the rest of the process! (Not to mention for the rest of your life!)
2) Drain the brine. Yep, right down the sink! Sure, you paid good money for it, but think of it this way: It has done its job, and done it well, so now it gets to be relieved of its duty and take an early retirement!
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3) Dump the pickles into a bowl large enough to hold them. You aren't going to do any stirring, so you don't need extra room to allow for that.
(No need to discard the garlic pieces;
I just let them co-habitate with the pickles!
Isn't this just an amazing action shot?!?!)
4) In a sauce pan – at least a two-quart one to allow for some boiling – dump in the sugar and stir in the vinegar. Turn burner on to high. As this is heating, stay nearby so that you can keep tabs on what's going on with it.
5) Cut the pickles into bite-size pieces. You can't do this incorrectly! Even if you left them whole, they would still turn out great!
Bonus instructions for my OCD friends: I don't want you to hyperventilate trying to figure out if you're making these the right size! So I will just go ahead and tell you the correct size. (And please get out a ruler for this!) Here it is: ONE-HALF (1/2) INCH! No more, no less!!! Or they'll be RUINED! ... Just kiddin'! ~ as you saw in Step 5. They' be fine at any length!
6) As you slice the pickles, drop them back into the jar they came in. You may need to shake the jar and pack them down a bit as you get close to the top.
(I bet you're thankful for all
these pictures, or you may not have
been able to figure this out!)
7) You'll probably be dropping the last of your pickles pieces into the jar at about the same time the brine mixture is starting to think seriously about coming to a boil. This first photo is when it's just thinking about boiling.
8) Once the brine comes to a boil, let it boil for one minute. Here's what the full boil looks like at that point... It's a bit foamy and turns clear.
9) Slowly and carefully pour the hot brine into the jar, over the pickles. Be careful not to splash! Unless you enjoy getting burned.
10) Take a table knife and stick it down into the jar and move it around a bit ~ in different places ~ to release air bubbles. If you don't do this, they'll be fine, but the more air bubbles you let out, the more of the brine you can get in there. Which, to us – I mean you – OCDers, is important.
11) Let the jar sit on the counter or in the fridge for a week. It takes that long for the brine to fully soak into the pickles and transform them into the most delicious pickles you will EVER eat!!!
I turn them upside down every so often, and then right side up coming down ~ just to make sure that the brine is getting into all the pickles! Probably an OCD step, but I do it anyway! (Even though I am NOT even one speck OCD!)
While the recipe
portion is complete...
see a potential
Some unknowing person could happen upon this jar of pickles in the fridge, and because the jar says that "dill pickles" are in said jar, they will think they're going to get a DILL PICKLE!!!!!! What a ~ for lack of a better word ~ jarring experience this will be!
What to do?!?
Not a problem! I just happen to be a labelologist, so here's the label I created to solve this problem!!!
I printed the label onto a sheet of photo paper, and sliced it just above and just below the text.
Looks great, (if I do say so m'self,) BUT just one drop of pickle juice, and the label will be a mess! Soooo...
To the rescue, either several strips of tape, layered on in overlapping fashion (which isn't the best appearance, but it works), OR here's what you can do with a a regular plastic sheet protector!
Insert the sliced-down label into the plain (non-3-ring) side, and trim it down to just a bit larger than the label.
You can't see it very well, but I put a strip of wide (2-inch) packaging tape onto both of the narrow ends of the label, which, even though you can't see it very well, is inside the cut-down plastic sheet protector.
No need to glue it on; just wrap it around the jar over the original label, being careful to press the taped ends down smoothly. It won't go anywhere!
And here it is all done and applied to the jar!!!
I'm sure you know this, but I'll say it anyway: WASH THIS JAR BY HAND!!! This label is not dishwasher-safe!
By the way, after all this work, I save my jar for future batches of pickles! Why do it over each time?!?!
And here, for you brass-tacks minimalists, is the above recipe with simpler instructions and without all the verbiage and photos:
Grandma Shelton's Rebrined Pickles
46-ounce jar of whole dill pickles (any kind)
1 cup of vinegar
3 cups of white sugar
1) Open the jar of pickles, drain the brine, and dump the pickles into a bowl large enough to hold them.
2) In a medium sauce pan, pour in the sugar, and stir the cup of vinegar in to that. Turn burner on to high, and as the brine is heating...
3) Cut the pickles into bite-size pieces, and drop them back into the jar they came in. (You may need to shake the jar and pack them down a bit as you get close to the top.)
4) You should be dropping the last of your cut pickles into the jar at about the same time the brine mixture is starting to think seriously about coming to a boil.
5) Once the brine comes to a boil, let it boil for one minute, then carefully pour the hot brine into the jar, over the pickles.
6) Use a table knife to release air bubbles.
7) Let the jar sit on the counter or in the fridge for a week. You will then have a jar of the most delicious pickles you will EVER eat!!! (I turn them upside down every so often, and then right side up coming down… just to make sure that the brine is getting into all the pickles!)
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