When my Earthbox garden produced more cucumbers than I could consume, I naturally looked into pickling. As a child, I never cared for sweet pickles, but then again, the only sweet pickles I had came in the form of hot dog relish, so it wasn’t a good introduction. Then, earlier this year, I saw “bread and butter” pickles on the store shelf. Curious, I tried some.
Now that’s a good, sweet pickle. I set about devising a recipe.
“Bread and Butter” pickles got their name in during the Great Depression. Cucumbers are easy to grow, and very fruitful, so every home had some in the garden. A common Depression lunch during the growing season was bread, butter, and cucumbers. When the plants produced more fruit than could be used immediately, they pickled them and ate them through the cold months–with their bread and butter.
Slicing the cucumbers lengthwise, they’re easy to lay out onto a slice of bread. Take two thick slices of whole wheat bread, slather with some nice, salted butter, add a couple layers of these pickles, and tuck in.
Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 3 pints
- 2 pounds small/pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthwise (3/8″ to 1/4″ thick)
- 1 pound onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced “Goodfellas” thin
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 ½ cups white sugar
- 1 tbsp. brown mustard seed
- 1 tbsp. yellow mustard seed
- 1 ½ tsp. celery seed
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 ½ tsp. turmeric
- In a large, non-reactive bowl, mix the cucumbers, onions, bell pepper, garlic, and salt. Make sure the salt is evenly distributed, and chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
- Take the cucumber mixture from the fridge and rinse the mixture with cold water. Rinse again and drain the mixture in a colander for 10 minutes. (This gets rid of the excess salt.)
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, cloves, and turmeric. Stir to dissolve the sugar as you bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the cucumber mixture to the vinegar mixture. Stir as you reheat the contents. Take it off the heat just as it begins to simmer. Set aside.
- Sterilize 3 pint jars with lids and rings in boiling water. Remove the jars, lids, and rings, but keep the water hot.
- Transfer the cucumber mixture to the sterile jars, filling to within 1 inch of the top. Fill with the pickling juice. Slip a knife blade down the side of the jars to help dislodge air bubbles. Top up the jars with pickling juice.
- Wipe the lip of the jar clean with a paper towel, place a lid and ring, and finger tighten.
- Put the sealed jars into the boiling water and process 5-10 minutes, until the lids bow upward.
- Remove from the water and set aside to cool. The lids should contract and seal.
- Store in the fridge.
- This works best with pickling cucumbers about 6″ long. If you use larger cucumbers, slice them from the outside inward until you reach the tough seeds, then rotate the cuke and slice from the other side. When you’re down to just a seed-filled core, discard it.
- Slicing the cucumbers lengthwise is easiest on a mandoline. You can cut the onion almost in half and slice it on the mandoline as well.
- I used green bell peppers but red or orange bell peppers add a nice color to the mixture.
- For extra zest, add a long arbol chile to each jar before you seal them up.