Lady Ashburnham Pickles

Lady Ashburnham Pickles ~ We haven’t made these, or any pickles for that matter,  in quite a few years.  No reason for the pickle drought, except maybe laziness.  Well,  this year we turned our kitchen into “Pickle Central” and made dill, sweet Bread and Butter and this delicious, all time favourite of ours and many other Maritimers, Lady Ashburnham.

Our  favourite way to eat these is with a creamy mound of mashed potatoes, but they have an almost relish like consistency so they would also be great on a burger or a hot dog too.


Lady Ashburnham Pickles


Lady Ashburnham Pickles

{The finished product, all bottled and ready to eat, I mean store away for winter dinners!}

4.9 from 10 reviews
Lady Ashburnham Pickles
A classic Maritime relish!
Recipe type: Miscellaneous
  • 6 large cucumbers (peeled with seeds removed and chopped into a ¼ to ½ inch dice)
  • ¼ cup salt *{table or coarse; see note}
  • 4 cups onions, chopped fine
  • 2½ cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsps. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. tumeric
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  1. Cut your cucumbers and onions into small pieces and mix together in a large pot; I use a food processor for the onions but cut the cucumber by hand. {I find the cucumbers are much too delicate to chop in a processor and they may very quickly turn to mush}.
  2. Add salt to cucumbers and onions, and let sit overnight.
  3. Next day, drain and rinse salt. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat for 45 mins, making sure to stir the pickles often. Carefully pack into hot sterilized jars. Wait for the “pop”, store and enjoy!
  4. Refrigerate any open jars.

I hope you will give this recipe a try, these pickles/relish are really quite unique and absolutely delicious!

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask and I will do my best to answer them.

{10/30/2013} *I have updated the recipe to give the option of using coarse salt (vs table salt).  The original recipe calls for table salt but some people felt the pickles were too salty.  I checked out several similar recipes on-line and both salts were used.  So it seems to be a matter of personal taste.  However, I am thinking the coarser pickling salt would be easier to rinse away, perhaps making the pickles less salty.

I am trying another batch today and when they are finished, I will let you know the result.  (UPDATE – They turned out great, will probably stick to the coarse salt.)



  1. Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice says

    This is definitely one of my favorites, but I have not put the effort into making them yet….. still not to late as the stores still have fresh (local) cukes. You have just given me incentive to start.Mmmm can almost smell them cooking!!

    • I need to make another batch Pat, we’ve already gone through 2 bottles and it only made 5 :)

    • Joan Narrowmore says

      Don’t be discouraged if it’s late in the season. The best cukes for these are those large overgrown ones that you didn’t see till you started pulling the vines up. You’re going to peel and seed them anyway, so the overripe ones are perfect.

  2. These have caught my attention! Looks delish and easy enough for me. I am a wanna-be canner. ;) Will you answer my questions if I run into trouble?

    • Shannon, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but if you have a question I will do my very best to help you!

  3. Joy Keeler says

    Can you give me an idea in cups or liters how much “6 large cukes chopped” equals. My cukes are short, but fat, so I’m not sure 6 = 6 if you know what I mean.

    • Joy, my cucumbers were about 8 to 10 inches long and fairly fat…so if your’s are about half that size I would double the amount. I don’t think it is a totally exact science as far as the cucumbers and onions are concerned. Hope all goes well Joy, and please, let me know how they turn out!


    • Judy Inglis Lancaster says

      Hi Joy – I have just finished a batch – you will need 15 or 16 cups of diced cukes. If you add more flour to the pickles – a tablespoon more maybe – that should thicken them. Delicious pickles for sure. :)

  4. I made many batches of these when we lived in New Brunswick – but we called them mustard pickles. You brought back nice memories of summer days in the kitchen.

  5. Joy Keeler says

    Had them last night with ham and mashed potatoes–yum! They were so good. Never made them before, but will certainly continue to do so. Is the “sauce” meant to be runny? Mine was, but some pictures show it as “thick”. Just wondering if I cooked it enough.

    • Hi Joy,
      Glad they turned out! We also love them with mashed potatoes. The “sauce” shouldn’t be a really runny, it should have a little bit of body to it. It could be the cooking time, maybe next time if you feel the sauce is too runny you could add 5 or 10 minutes. Also, be sure you drain the cucumber onion mixture well before cooking. Runny or thicker, either way they are delicious!!

  6. Wendy Jamieson says

    Lady Ashburnham are my favorite pickles. I use the same recipe as you but decreased the turmeric to 1 teaspoon instead of the 1 Tablespoon. Also, decreased the vinegar by 1/2 cup so they weren’t quite so runny. My jars are starting to “pop” now…yum!

  7. Hi I have made these pickles and did hear some of the jars pop but how do you know if they all did? Sorry, first timer! and don’t want to make anyone sick.

    • Hi Karen, did you use new lids, the ring can be re-used but not the lid. Put your finger on the top of the lid in question, there should be no movement what so ever. I went to the Bernardin website and found this information for you ( –
      “If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, the product must be:
      Reprocessed immediately
      Stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days
      Placed in a proper freezer container and frozen.
      To reprocess a product, remove the lid and check the sealing surface of the jar for tiny nicks or imperfections. If glass is damaged, replace the jar. If the product was packed hot originally, empty the jar and reheat the food. Pack the food into a clean, hot jar. (If processing time is less than 10 minutes, sterilize the jar before filling.) Boil a new SNAP LIDS® 5 minutes, place it on the jar and apply the screw band securely, until fingertip tight. Reprocess the product using the canning method and full processing time recommended by an up-to-date reliable home canning resource.”

      Hope this is helpful, let me know how you make out!

      • Thanks Monica, all of my lids were new. They are now really tight too! I guess I did it right:) Another question though, How long before I can eat them? They smelled delicious and I can’t wait to try it.


  8. Dona A'Court says

    Hi Monica, I live in N. B. and these are my favourite pickles of all. We grow our own cucumbers, so can’t wait to try this recipe a try for the first time. My question is How long does it take for the lids to “pop” and should I actually hear a “pop” when they do. Also, can this recipe be doubled or should I make separate batches. I know I can’ get enough of these. I love them with mashed potatoes, but my very favourite is on home made Baked Beans. Yummy!

    • Hi Dona, I am so happy to meet a fellow! In answer to your questions, usually the lids take only a few minutes to pop…I think the longest I have waited may have been an hour or so, it usually happens quite quickly. However, I checked on the Bernardin website ( and they said it could take up to 24 hours. They also have instructions on what to do if it doesn’t “pop” and seal properly. You can hear the pop if it’s fairly quiet in your kitchen and you listen for it, but it is not very loud. When they pop the lid will be tight and will have no give when you push on it. If you are in doubt, go to their website and they explain your options.
      I have never doubled it, but I really see no reason why you couldn’t as long as you had a big enough pot to cook them.
      One reader also suggested adding extra flour to the pickles – a tablespoon more, if you like them thicker, I’m going to try that with my next batch!

      Good luck Dona, let me know how they turn out!

      (PS…I have never had them with baked beans but I am trying that for sure…yum!!)

  9. HELP….I just made a batch of “another” recipe, (which I will not make again) and it called for about the same amount of chopped cukes and onions and the same other ingredients, for the most part. The only thing was they wanted 1 cup on pickling salt on the cukes and onions overnight….I rinsed them 2 times and they are still soooo salty, can I use more sugar in them and do I need to take them out of the bottles and heat it thru again…..I definitely will be using your recipe next time, but I hate to lose the first batch….. Can you give me any advice, I am thinking I may have to dump the whole thing….thanks a bunch

    • Have you already cooked them Karen? If not I would rinse them a couple more times. If you have already cooked them, which I think you have done by what you are saying, I would dump the ingredients back into the pot add a couple peeled potatoes to the mixture and cook for a while longer. (Potatoes, or any carbohydrate for that matter, absorbs salt) Remove the potato with a sterilized spoon and re-jar as directed. You should probably re-sterilize your jars as well. I am no expert, but that is what I would try. Hope it works out…let me know!

    • Heather Fisher says

      I made these pickles today and they turned out very good. I am a first timer and followed the recipe to a ‘T’. Only problem I found was the salt taste. I did wash very well but could still taste salt so I used a potato like you suggested. The question I have is, do you have to use this much salt or can I use less?

      • I don’t see why you couldn’t decrease the salt a bit Heather. You need some to preserve and crisp the pickles but you could try reducing the 1/4 cup by a couple tablespoons.

        • Heather Fisher says

          Thanks so much..I am going to make more they are so good.

        • I had to check the recipe on my site to make sure it didn’t say 1 Cup of salt! Phew.. it’s only 1/4 Cup. I’ve never had any problems with the pickles tasting salty, but I can definitely see how 1 Cup would be problematic.

          I must say I did not know about the “adding potato to absorb salt” part of that thread! That’s excellent info!

  10. Hi I’m from New Brunswick but I live in Texas now, I’m so glad I found your recipe, I’m going to make some soon. Should I use regular cucumber’s or pickling cucumbers. You said large ones, or does it really matter . Thank You

    • Hi Maria, It’s great to meet a fellow NBer! Wow, Texas is a much different climate from NB, I bet you love it! To answer your question Maria, you should use regular eating cucumbers, not pickling or not English style. Hope that helps, good luck with the recipe, let me know how you make out.

  11. My first ever attempt at canning, pickle/relish making. These are delicious and bring back wonderful childhood memories! Thank you for the recipe. I ended up with 9 – 8oz bottles. I did a 10 minute hot bath and all popped within minutes of coming out of the water. I will definitely use this recipe again.
    Ps use to eat these every Sunday after church with baked beans and brown bread. So good!

    • Hi Elise, I am so happy they turned out for you and brought back wonderful childhood memories. Your are the second person to say they used to eat these with beans…I am definitely going to try that, it sounds yummy!

  12. I made these pickles today. I soaked them over night with pickling salt, and yes, I renised then before I started to cook them.
    But after they were cooked they still have a salty taste. Do you need to soak them before you cook? What should I have done different? So I will know the next time… And how can I fix the problem now?

  13. I made these pickles today. I soaked them over night with pickling salt, and yes, I renised then before I started to cook them.
    But after they were cooked they still have a salty taste. Do you need to soak them before you cook? What should I have done different? So I will know the next time… And how can I fix the problem now? Please email me back with a solution.

    • Yes, you do need salt Laura, you could try decreasing the amount of salt by a tablespoon or two. I have never adjusted the salt but if you add potato it will absorb salt, if you peel a couple potatoes and add them to the mixture, recook and then remove the potato, that should help. Let me know how you make out.

  14. I wish I could give you a hug…..I am not a big pickle fan but always loved Lady Ashburnhams…with mashed potatoes…have not had them for at least 30 years and never ran across a recipe….am going to make these and will say a little prayer for you every time I enjoy them!

  15. I made these years ago and want to do them again. I am concerned that they are not processed in a canner. Where do you store yours before you open them?
    Thanks, Tracy

    • Hi Tracy,

      I store the unopened bottles on a shelf in our basement. Once we open a bottle, we then need to store it in the fridge. To answer your question re processing in a canner, we have never done it that way. Just always packed the hot mixture into the sterilized jars and you must be certain that the jars seal (pop). I am certainly no expert, but if you are not comfortable with that method, I don’t see how canning would harm them.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful Tracy.


  16. It’s early September and I am going to try making Lady Ashburnham pickles for the first time. I found an old Barbour cookbook with a recipe but it is short on detail so was glad to find your site. Up to this point, I have relied on local farm markets or talented and generous friends to keep me in a supply but now that I have more time, I am going to try making my own.

    No one has mentioned eating these pickles with mac and cheese. FABULOUS. If I don’t have any Lady Ashburnham’s in the house, I don’t bother making mac and cheese for hubby and I. It just isn’t the same without the pickles.

    I think I will head down the Big Potato or Country Pumpkin in search of cukes.

    Happy Picklin’ :)

    • I have that old Barbour’s cookbook too Nancy. Lots of great recipes, but I agree, very short on details. Will definitely try these with Mac & Cheese, sounds delicious. Have fun making your batch of these pickles…they are YUMMY!

  17. Una Rae isbister says

    What type of vinegar is used for the pickles/relish
    Thank you

  18. I add red pepper & sometimes cauliflower to mine

  19. thank you so much for this recipe. My family is from NB/ I live in Colorado now but it always brings back wonderful family memories! I love them on just about anything!!! This is my second time I have followed this recipe and I do cut a little bit of the salt out and it works great!!

  20. Marlene Thornton says

    I am from the Maritimes, and we make these a lot. I have not made them in a long time, but they are my favorite. I just got all the cucumbers, and onions chopped. They are soaking in the salt. Going to make them tomorrow. I just love them as does my family.

  21. I made these pickles 3 days ago and one bottle is already gone. We love them!

    • Hi Diane, my apology for my tardy response. We were moving and because of a couple glitches had no internet or cell phone for a few days. Glad you love the pickles…they are a family favourite with us!

  22. Gwen Cober née Hambrook says

    Hi Monica:
    I found your website today after googling Barbour Cookbook Lady Ashburnham Pickles recipe and must tell you your blog feels like a warm hug!! I seem to have misplaced my mother’s Barbour!s cookbook after moving to Florida recently from California. Mum asterisked the recipes she made and added her little tweaks so not being able to find it is a pretty big deal. However, I am determined to make these as it has been 20 years since my last batch and they were just sooo good!! Now that my husband and I are empty nesters I look for ways to add dry mustard and turmeric to our foods. While my siblings (5 brothers and a sister) and I grew up devouring these with mashed potatoes and fried bologna, my husband and I will enjoy them with baked ham, corned beef and cabbage and/or as a condiment for BBQ’d burgers. Mum’s did include small slices of red bell pepper. You eat with your eyes first!!
    Thanks so much!

    • Oh Gwen, thank you so much for all your kind words, that is so sweet of you to say. When we were kids we also ate them with mashed potatoes and fried bologna! Love your mom’s addition of red pepper, going to try that with my next batch, like you said, we eat with our eyes first!

  23. Zachary Peterson says

    I just wanted to chime in on your salt issue! Coarse salt is much less dense than table salt because the bigger grains allow more air between them than in powdered salt. Coarse salt has a density of roughly 45 kg/ m^3, whereas table salt is almost twice that at 70 kg/m3.
    So if your recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of coarse salt use about 60% of that volume for table salt (about 5 tablespoons).

  24. Hey there!I’m excited to be trying this recipe for the first time ever with my homegrown cucumbers =) Just wondering, is it not required to water bath cann the jars after the food is in it? Or will it be safe to store at room temperature because you cooked them first?Thanks

    • Hi Courtney and I apologize for my tardy response. I was away for a couple days with no internet access. They don’t need water bath canning because the mixture is cooked and the jars have been sterilized.

  25. marci gould says

    HI, I’m relatively new to making pickles and I love these so I’m going to give them a try. But I have one BIG question… How much does this recipe make? I’m not old fashioned, so don’t use pint or quarts. I need to just go to the store and buy the correct number of jars. They are sold by the ml.

  26. Carrie vaillancourt says

    Hi there. My husband loves mustard pickles but I have never made them and I have an over abundance growing in my garden. I am going to try your recipe because it seemed like the best one to me when I was searching. I have 2 questions. #1. Do you have to seed the cukes? It wasnt stated in the instructions (unless I missed it oops!) and #2. Is there ANY way of lowering or omitting the salt? Can the sugar act as the preservative here? I am a heart patient and am on a strict low/no salt diet. Thank you so much :) Carrie Anne

    • Hi Carrie, I did remove the seeds from the cucumbers, sorry, I nee to adjust that on the recipe. Thank you for pointing it out. As for the salt, unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend altering it.

  27. Another NBer here. I have made these several times but today they are runny. I have them all bottled and wonder if I should un-bottle them, put them back on stove and add more flour? I just made them today and know they need to sit but usually they are not like this. I did forget to rinse the salt off so that could be why.

  28. I made these for the first time last year and they were amazing. I used the recipe straight from the blog. This year I did exactly the same thing or so I thought! But the pickles turned out tasteless! Nice texture but absolutely no flavour. I just don’t get it. So disappointing. Last year the quantity made 6 – 500 ml. This year almost10 – 500 ml. So it must be the quantity of cucs. I didn’t annotate so I don’t the exact quantity that I used each year. How many cups of raw cucumber should there be? The cucs vary so much in size and shape!
    So now I want to try and fix them. This year’s batch is a bit runnier. I need to add flavour but that involves a lot more liquid. So, I thought I would try and strain the vegetables. Make and cook two batches of brine separately. Try and reduce the original liquid because it has the flavour from the cucs and onions. Then start adding the liquid back to the vegetables until it tastes good.
    Do you have any suggestions to add.
    Thanks so much Carrie

  29. Awhhh…thank you so much for the link, that was so kind of you!

  30. I made these on the weekend they turned out great followed recipe exactly.
    Thanks Jackie

  31. I have been making Lady Ashburnham Pickles for over 40 years; my grandmother’s recipe. It’s like Barbour’s cookbook and yours. The only thing I do differently is the onions. I don’t put them in overnight! I wonder what difference it makes! Everyone seems to like mine!
    Have you ever tried leaving the onions til morning?

  32. That’s great, Jackie, so glad you were happy with the recipe, it’s a favourite of our family!

  33. Hi Judy, no, I’ve never tried it that way. But if yours turn out well, I wouldn’t mess with success!


  1. […] I was newly married, I have very fond memories of my mom and I getting together to make Lady Ashburnham Pickles, Relish and these Bread & Butter Pickles.  We didn’t have any fancy chopping devices […]

  2. […] Lady Ashburnham pickles … mine were made by my grandparents. I don’t know their recipe, but here is a recipe. […]

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