The Pickle Jar

What a crock!

2 gallon pickle crock.

2 gallon Schumm crock used for pickles.

For decades crocks like this were used by our ancestors for preserving, fermenting, pickling, and storing food. Their use started to decline in about 1913 with the advent of home refrigerators, although they were still used for several more decades. Today stoneware crocks are popular to collect and have a simple rustic beautify of their own.

I love, love, love these old crocks, in all sizes and shapes. Some crocks are quite large and heavy and some have a painted decoration.

So, needless to say, I was thrilled when Joe found this wonderful old salt glazed crock a few weeks ago. It is a 2 gallon crock and is 11.5 inches tall. It is in very good condition and it was my grandma Schumm’s crock. Actually, it might have even been used her mother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Schinnerer) Scaer.

To make it even more special, this crock has a lid.

Pickle Jar with lid (1)

That is special because most crocks that have survived do not have a lid. This lid looks like it is homemade. Like someone shaped it out of a piece of slate. But the best thing about this lid is that someone wrote on the lid with ink. Their shaky handwriting is a little difficult to see but you can still read the words:

“Lid for 2 gal jar for pickles.”.

"Lid for 2 gal jar for pickles"

“Lid for 2 gal jar for pickles”

This was the crock my grandmother and/or great-grandmother made and stored their pickles in! How special is that! Having grandma’s pickle jar.

My mom also made pickles and she had some pickle recipes in her recipe box. Among my mom’s recipes were these two old dill pickle recipes.

“Mom’s Dill Pickles”
Wash pickles, put grape leaves in bottom of jar, put pickles and dill in till full.

2 gallons of water
1 cup of salt
1 quart of vinegar
You can also add 4 tablespoons of alum.

Use 5 gallon jar.

Grandma evidently used a larger crock for that recipe.

The next recipe is:

“Dill Pickles in a Crock”
Make a layer of grape leaves, dill, and pickles. Repeat.

Put a plate and a stone or weight on top to hold it down.

Make a brine of:
½ cup canning salt (coarse)
1 cup cider vinegar
½ gallon rain water

Bring to a boil. Cool slightly and add 2 tablespoons of alum and pour on over top of pickles.

In a couple days a white scum will come on top. Skim the scum off.

Pickles are good to eat in 3 days.

When they are sour enough take out pickles and brine and put in covered container and refrigerate. Keeps for months. (note: These are a little saltier than Mom’s.)

I love that they specified using rain water! Plus this recipe mentions using both a crock and a refrigerator—the pickles were made in the crock and stored in the refrigerator.

Nearly every summer my mom made delicious Lime Pickles, aka Sweet Pickles, but I don’t ever remember her using a crock. Instead she canned them in quart jars. They were crunchy and were very good on hamburgers. Here is her Lime Pickle recipe:

“Lime ‘Sweet’ Pickles”
Dissolve 3 cups of lime in 2 gallons of water. Slice 7 pounds of cucumbers 1/8” thick. (Use long cucumbers, 1½” diameter or smaller; the seeds will fall out of larger cucumbers.) Put sliced cucumbers in the lime water and soak for 24 hours.

Wash off every hour for 4 consecutive hours, placing cucumbers in clear water and changing the water every hour. During the last hour mix and bring to a boil:

4½ pounds granulated sugar
3 pints vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons celery seed
6 sticks cinnamon
¼ teaspoon alum
Green cake coloring

Pour boiling mixture over the cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Simmer cucumbers and liquid for 2-2 ½ hours and can them hot.

She made some good pickles. I wish I had some today.


    • sharon schaadt cowen on July 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks, Karen, for including the recipes. Mom always made sweet pickles. I have a few crocks, too, that she used. I’ve never been successful with dills, but am excited about trying your recipe!

    Sharon Schaadt Cowen

    1. I hope the pickles turn out, especially if you try the dill pickles…in a crock! It would be an interesting experiment. Thanks for writing!

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