Lady Ashburnham Pickles

20131002-134257.jpgThis is our families favourite condiment.  I try to make three batches of these every year with half for giving.  My family get very excited when I make these again after the previous years batches have depleted.  These pickles are great on the side with many meals.  I personally love them with pork and on grilled sausages.  I was taught to make this recipe by my Mother, who was taught by her Grandmother, my namesake, Grammie Mina Lindsay.  I did research and this recipe is a Maritime tradition dating back to the early 1900’s made by Lady Marie Ashburnhams sister Lucy of Fredericton, New Brunswick.  When I started making these for y family I changed the recipe, by using a food processor to chop the vegetables.  Its makes more of a relish, instead of the more chunkier pickle.  You may keep with tradition by cutting all the onions and cucumbers into small pieces by hand.  If you cut them too chunky it will closely resemble a mustard pickle recipe.  My mothers advice was to never double this recipe.  However if you choose to, you will need to cook much longer before it begins to thicken.

Lady Ashburnham Pickle Materials & Ingredients:


    1. Large stock pot
    2. Colander for draining
    3. Canning jars and new lids and covers: 5-6 – 500 ml 
    4. Large bowl
    5. Ladle
    6. Wide neck funnel (*optional but does make filling the jars easier)
    7. Jar lifter (*optional but helps to remove hot jars safely)
    8. Canner, pressure cooker, or large covered pot with a rack on the bottom (to prevent jars from cracking)
    9. Labels *optional


  • 6 Large Cucumbers – peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 4-5 medium to large onions (approx. 4 cups of finely chopped)
  • 2.5 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 small to medium sweet pepper
  • 2 – 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp turmeric


  1. Peel and seed cucumbers



2.  Place in food processor in batches and pulse until finely chopped to relish size.  Add to a bowl and mix in the 1/4 cup of pickling salt.

3.  Let sit overnight, as per my moms recipe.  *(I have prepared these in the morning and then let sit in the salt for 5-6 hours and they turned out perfect)

4.  Rinse and drain


5.  Peel and chop onions in half or quarters
6.  Place in food processor in batches and pulse until finely chopped to relish size
7.  Finely chop red pepper.


8.  To a large pot add all remaining ingredients, cucumbers, onions, and red pepper
9.  Stir to combine
10.  Simmer over medium/high heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until thickened.  Be careful not to bring to a boil, these pickles can splash up boiling hot liquid and it’s hard to stir splashing  lava like pickles and the bottom can burn quickly.


11.  Fill canner with water and place jars in canner.  Bring to a boil over high heat or place the jars in an oven set at 200°F for 15 minutes
12.  Remove jars from boiling water.  Set lids in boiling water to soften for 5-10 minutes (There has been changes to the canning rules for lids made by ball as of 2013.  They have been made BPA free and now only recommend washing in hot soapy water and rinse well before using.  Follow manufacturers directions for all other brands)
13.  Fill each warm/hot jar with the pickles to 1 inch of the rim
14.  Wipe the rim with a clean cloth and place the cover on.


15.  Place jars in canner, cover, and boil for 25-30 minutes.  If I only have a jar or two left from my batch to boil, I place a couple of empty coverless jars in the water bath to prevent the jars filled with pickles from falling over.  (My mom’s recipe, as with most older recipes, do not require this step, but I process in the canner for added precaution)
16.  Remove jars from water, let cool, wipe jars clean


17.  *Optional – Label and store in a cool dark place.  I buy these labels at My Own Labels as I like to give these in a gift basket, or take as a housewarming gift for dinner at a friends.


My beautiful mother was in Halifax for a visit and I asked her to help me make another batch of Lady Ashburnham Pickles her way, the non lazy way 😉 with no food processor.  You can see that she still finely chops the cucumbers but they are more pickle like then relish.

14 thoughts on “Lady Ashburnham Pickles

  1. Laurie Moore says:

    I make them as well,but add 2 cups of cauliflower and like your Mom, I do it the old fashioned way as we like them as a pickle, a little crunchy.

    My sister and I will just sit and eat a custard bowl in front of the TV for a snack. I also give them out as gifts, I love your tags and labels, do you make them yourself or use a company?

    For ones I give at Christmas, I just cover the lid with Christmas themed material and let it overhang about 3/4 of and inch and tie it with red and green curly ribbon and tie a TO: and FROM: Christmas tag.


    • The Handy Homemaker says:

      Thank you Laurie. We’ve been known to pile our Lady Ashburnham pickles onto our plates and there isn’t room for much else 😉 I like make my own labels/tags however last year I started ordering labels from Love that they are waterproof and my label doesn’t smudge. Thanks for your comments


  2. Diane says:

    Congrats Martha. Martha how does one make dumplings for chichen stew? A d what is the difference between dumplings and dough boys


    • The Handy Homemaker says:

      Hi Diane, I believe that in the east coast when someone is referring to dumplings and doughboys they are usually referring to a soft wet dough that is mixed and added to a stew. However in some parts of the US I know that they refer to doughboys as a deep fried yeast dough that can sometimes be served with icing sugar, butter and cinnamon. Here is the dumpling recipe I always use for Chicken stew or beef stew, My recipe for Dumplings is 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and 3/4 cup-1 cup water or milk. Add only enough water to make a thick wet dough. I sometimes add finely chopped parsley, thyme or rosemary depending on the stew I am making. Add to your boiling soup or stew in 1/3-1/2 cup amounts. Cover and let boil for 7-9 minutes. Ready to serve 🙂 Make Blueberry dumplings for dessert using a slight variation of the same recipe. boil 3-4 cups fresh blueberries, 1/3 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, lemon zest and lemon juice to a pot. Place over medium/high heat and bring to a simmer/boil. Approx 10 min. To the same dumpling recipe as above use milk, add 1/4 cup sugar, tsp vanilla, pinch of cinnamon and place dollops of the dumpling batter into the simmering blueberry sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer/small boil being careful not to scorch. Leave covered for 7-9min Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Delicious! Hope this helps xoxo


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