There are six very different recipes for Mustard Pickles in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. I decided to start with the recipe contributed by Mrs. J. Treusch since it doesn’t require soaking the cucumbers in salt water for 24 hours. I’m also reducing the recipe so that I can try other recipes at another time.
Instead of 4 pints (8 cups) of cucumbers I’m using 4 cups. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 pints (5 cups) of vinegar so I’m using just 2 1/2 cups of vinegar. I put the vinegar in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of dry mustard powder, 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Be careful working with this mixture at all times as turmeric will stain things yellow. I washed the cucumbers and added them. I left it to simmer for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. It is at this point that you would start canning the mustard pickles.
Based on the 1901 census Mrs. J. Treusch is either 37-year-old Mary G. wife of 34-year-old John the machine hand in a furniture factory or 47-year-old Mary wife of 52-year-old John the wood finisher in a furniture factory. In the 1911 census the older couple live at 150 Wellington Street. Mary G and John (the younger couple) live at 29 Foundry Street.
The mustard pickles smelled good as they simmered away on the stove. I don’t really like pickles — especially cucumber based pickles but as usual with this cook book, I’m pushing myself to try things I don’t like to eat. Tasting the pickles on the day they are made is probably not a fair test. Recipes like this rely on time in the jar for the vinegar and spices to penetrate the cucumber. However, I think I can still get a sense of what the pickle will taste like eventually. I liked the flavour of the spiced and sweetened vinegar. The vinegar is slightly overpowering but then vinegar is the preservative so it should be strong. I didn’t grow up with mustard pickles but many people in Waterloo Region did grow up with a family favourite. I get the sense that there are many many different types so if you are yearning for a mustard pickle from the past this might be one to try. And then again the odds are that it is not your grandmother’s mustard pickle.
4 pints pickles, 2 1/2 pints vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup mustard, 1 tablespoon turmeric powder, 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Simmer for 15 minutes.