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The Chicago Pickling Cucumber

Who doesn’t love a good, crunchy pickle? Whether you prefer them sour or sweet, they are a delicious treat either way! Pickling cucumbers are popular for just what the name suggests, pickling.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Chicago pickling cucumber!

Cucumber with small black spines resembling the Chicago pickling cucumber.

Characteristics of the Chicago Pickling Cucumber

The variety of pickling cucumber originated in Chicago, hence its name, and has been around since 1888. This variety is popular for gardeners who want to plant outside in climates such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Appearance

These blocky-like cucumbers have medium-green colored skin with black spines, much like other varieties of pickling cucumbers.

Jars of large pickling cucumbers.

They grow up to around 7 inches long, which means they are a little larger than some of the other pickling cucumbers, such as the Picklebush variety. For this reason, some gardeners choose to harvest the fruit before they reach their full size.

Other gardeners let these cucumbers grow to their full potential before pickling them. Think about those huge jars of whole pickles at the grocery store. This variety of cucumber is likely what you are seeing.

The Chicago pickling cucumber is a bumpy, but thin-skinned cucumber that makes it ideal for slicing and pickling, and soaking up the brine of pickle juice.

Taste

This particular cucumber has a sweeter taste than some of the other pickling cucumbers, such as the Boston pickling cucumber. Its sweet flavor makes it ideal for making sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish to use as a topping.

Chicago pickling cucumbers are best eaten raw or pickled and offer a mild, but delicious flavor that adults and kids alike will love.

The peel of the cucumber contains most of its nutrients, so make sure you do not skip out on it!


Recipes

The Chicago Pickling Cucumber is delicious any way you slice it! Mix it into a salty side dish, pickle it using either a sweet or sour brine, slice it and eat it raw.

Keep reading for yummy recipes for this variety of cucumbers.

Chicago Style Sweet Cucumber Relish

Jars of homemade pickled cucumber relish.

Do you like having sweet relish with your hotdog, or maybe even your hamburger? This recipe for Chicago Style Sweet Cucumber Relish is for you!

You can enjoy this sweet cucumber relish as a topping for a hotdog or hamburger, or if you like you can add it to your potato salad recipe for a sweet and savory crunch. It will give your typical potato salad a sweet and savory twist that everyone will love.

Grandma’s Dill Pickles

Homemade dill pickles.

If you enjoy more mild tasting pickle, this recipe for Grandma’s Dill Pickles is perfect for you!

Flavored using vinegar, fresh dill, and fresh garlic cloves, this recipe will yield a pickle that doesn’t make you pucker, but still packs that dill-y taste we all love. This mild tasting pickle is great to enjoy by itself, or alongside a meal.

Best Ever Sweet Pickles

Homemade sweet pickle slices.

If you prefer sweet pickles over sour pickles, check out this recipe for the Best Ever Sweet Pickles.

Sweet and crunchy, this pickle will make a delicious addition to sandwiches. Enjoy on the side of a good burger, or you can slice them for a sweet, but healthy snack.

The Chicago pickling cucumber is ideal for this recipe because it is a sweeter cucumber than some of the other pickling cucumbers, making for a great pair.


Health Benefits

Cucumbers are vitamin-rich fruits, containing a variety of nutrients that the body needs to keep going.

Chicago pickling cucumbers have a high water content, which promotes hydration. They are rich in vitamin K and calcium, to support bone health. These delicious treats also contain vital nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, which helps maintain a healthy heart!

A bowl of sliced cucumber.

Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them a popular choice in skincare routines, particularly for eye puffiness.

The Chicago pickling cucumber is ideal for pickling, as the name implies. Pickling raw fruit preserves all the antioxidants contained within, making them a yummy and healthy choice.

Pickles and pickle juice are popular for cramps and weight loss, and help manage diabetes. Pickles have a high sodium content as well, which makes them an excellent choice for those following a keto diet.

All in all, cucumbers are a delicious and very healthy food that can be enjoyed in many different ways.


Growing Your Own

The Chicago pickling cucumber can be grown outside regionally. The best places to grow them outside are Michigan, Wisconsin, and Virginia. These plants need full sun, so keep that in mind when choosing a place for them in your garden!

A pickling cucumber on the vine.

You can grow them on the ground, or on a trellis or fence, whichever you prefer.

This variety is great for a beginner because it is pretty easy to grow. This particular variety of cucumber is open-pollinated, meaning that it is fertilized by birds, bees, and butterflies, which the plant attracts.

It is disease resistant, including high resistance to scab and cucumber mosaic virus. But, it is not resistant to downy mildew as some other cucumber plants are, so you will need to make sure you keep the foliage dry when watering your plants.

This cucumber plant yields well in the ideal environment and matures in 55 days.


Where to Buy Chicago Pickling Cucumber

These cukes aren’t difficult to find. Large grocers like Walmart and Kroger have been known to carry them in their produce departments, so it doesn’t hurt to ask around!

Buying Seeds

Cucumber seedlings in a garden.
Cucumber seedlings.

The only way to guarantee you’ll be able to enjoy Chicago pickling cucumbers is to grow your own. So if you’re ready to add them to your gardening lineup, we’ve got good news! You can purchase Chicago pickling seeds online at Amazon.


Try the Chicago Pickling Cucumber!

Closeup of a hotdog with pickled relish.
Imagine enjoying your own homemade Chicago Pickling relish!

If you are looking for the perfect cucumber for sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish, give the Chicago pickling cucumber a try! It is easy to grow and highly resistant to disease, making it great for beginner gardeners!

It’s delicious when made into a sweet pickle relish, incorporated as an ingredient in potato salad, and of course, it makes a great pickle. You can also enjoy it raw and fresh with ranch dressing!

To learn more about cucumbers, please visit the Cucumbers page on our website where you’ll find blog posts on different varieties, plus helpful tips and growing guides!