Love and Hate: A Brief Tale of Bread and Butter Pickles
Once upon a time, the members of my family hated Bread and Butter Pickles. I am not sure why: perhaps they were too sweet instead of having that great dill pickle taste? Perhaps they had some limp Bread and Butter Pickles that didn’t have a crunch? Perhaps it was from a previous bad experience with other homemade pickles? Why must they hate such a delicious pickle!?!
Whatever it was, I was one against three in the Bread and Butter Pickle Department. I was the only one that liked them in our house, and since I am in charge of the canning operations in the Small Scale Gardening kitchen, I decided to make Bread and Butter Pickles anyway. For a time, I had jars of great tasting pickles all to myself, and of course I gave to neighbors and relatives who appreciated homemade pickles.
Eventually, my family did come around to liking them, but it took some wham and bam modifications to the basic recipe. I will cover that in the next post.
How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
My first Bread and Butter Pickles were made using Mrs. Wage’s Bread and Butter Pickle Packets, and the instructions are easy to follow, the packs have all the spices and it is easy to make excellent tasting pickles. If you want fool-proof pickles, I do recommend purchasing those packets and following the directions. Easy cheesy! Done…call it good. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!
Of course, sometimes you cannot find the packets or perhaps you want to be a do-it-yourselfer and make homemade pickles without packets. You can do it! It is easy to create your own brine; you just need a recipe.
I have found that the Ball® Blue Book Guide to Preserving and Brett L. Markham’s Mini Farming Handbook both list very similar recipes, and I have had success with them. In fact, I used this recipe this year for my pickles, the only change was that I ran out of mustard seeds and used ground mustard instead for some of the jars.
Another good source is the Pick Your Own.org site, which has excellent step-by-step instructions for making Bread and Butter Pickles. The recipe listed there is similar to the one posted below, and both would make great tasting pickles.
Without further ado, here is how to make your own Bread and Butter Pickles!
Bread and Butter Pickle Recipe
- 4 pounds of cucumbers (washed and blossom ends removed)
- 3 thinly sliced medium onions
- 1/3 cup canning salt
- 4 cups of vinegar (5% acidity) – I use apple cider vinegar (5% acidity) and it really works well
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 Tablespoons mustard seed
- 1 Tablespoon celery seed
- 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns
- Pickle crisp (per instructions) or grape leaf (optional – I use pickle crisp)
Yield: about 7 pints or 3 quarts
As I mentioned in the Dill Pickle Recipes post, I use pickle crisp in all of my pickle recipes, and it does seem to help keep the pickles crispy. I have also tasted pickles that have been made with a grape leaf in each jar, and they have been pretty crispy as well. Without access to grape leaves (for now), I used the pickle crisp.
CAUTION: please follow safe practices for canning! Do your research/homework and use the correct tools, jars and recipes. I recommend using the Ball® Blue Book Guide to Preserving as a guide and a good starting point. I would also recommend checking out your Cooperative Extension System Offices as well. The Extension Offices have local knowledge and resources and can help you as well. Other great sites are Pick Your Own and Simply Canning.
Directions for How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
- Mix up the brine consisting of the water, vinegar, sugar celery seed, turmeric, mustard seed and salt in a non-reactive pot, stir the brine and bring the brine to a simmer.
- Sterilize your jars, lids and rings. There has been some discussion online recently about lids, and it appears that lids do not need to be sterilized due to changes in the sealant formula. I will post on this soon.
- Once your jars are sterilized, pack the hot, sterilized jars tight with the cucumbers, onion, peppercorns (2 per jar), and pickle crisp/grape leaf in each jar.
- Pour the brine over the top and leave 1/4 inches of headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe the lid of each jar with a damp cloth, and put the lid and ring on the jar (hand tight).
- Place the jars in the water bath so that there is an inch of water over the jars and process for 10 minutes (rolling boil).
- Remove the jars and let them sit for 24 hours. Space them about one inch from each other so they can cool.
Curing takes about four to six weeks before the pickles develop a really good flavor.