Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Bread & Butter Pickles

Bread and butter pickles are a very easy, popular and traditional pickle. I remember making them once with my parents when I was a kid and they decided they wanted to make pickles. We got the recipe from one of my great-aunts. Unfortunately, none of us really liked them. It was a case of poor communication I suspect; we were in love with the garlicky, briney dills that lived in wooden barrels in the shops of Kensington market at the time, but no doubt all we said was "pickles". These are really very different from a kosher style dill. However, as the name suggests they are lovely as a sandwich filling, along with cheese, ham, egg salad, chicken salad, summer sausage... or probably even just by themselves, if your bread and butter was as good as the pickles.

I also suspect that first bread and butter recipe had too much sugar. So many older recipes do. This is a pretty standard version of bread and butter pickles, but I have taken the liberty of cutting the sugar called for in half, and I don't think it is too little. You can always put it back it you must. Note that if you use cucumbers, your 16 cups can be a little on the scant side, but that if you use zucchini you should be a tad generous with them. I used a dozen medium zucchini for my zucchini batch; cucumbers vary more in size but you should use small eating cucumbers rather than pickling cucumbers, and I would think 16 to 24 will be the correct number. Some people put a little green pepper in this. You could put in a cup of sliced peppers with the onions, if you like. I put a few hot pepper flakes and sliced jalapeƱos with my batch of zucchini pickles. Time will tell what I think of this addition.

6 500-ml jars
4 hours - 1 hour prep time

16 cups sliced cucumbers or zucchini
4 medium onions
1/3 cup pickling salt
2 to 3 trays of ice cubes

2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole celery seed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
OPTIONAL 1 to 2 teaspoons hot chile flakes

Wash the cucumbers or zucchini well, and trim off the ends. Cut them into thin, even slices, and layer them in a large perforated pot or strainer with the ice cubes and the salt. Peel and slice the onions in equally thin slices, and cut them in quarters. Add them to the strainer. Have a couple of the ice cubes and a little of the salt left to sprinkle over them. Cover and put in a cool spot for 3 hours to drain.

Meanwhile, put the jars into a canner and cover with water to an inch above their rims. When the vegetables have about 30 minutes left to drain, turn the heat on and bring them to a boil. Boil them for 10 minutes.

Just before the jars start boiling, put the vinegar, sugar and spices into a canning kettle or other very large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the mixtue to a boil, and boil until the sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, strain the vegetables thoroughly, shaking gently to dislodge as much liquid as possible from them. Do not rinse them. Add them to the boiling brine, and bring them up to a scant boil. This should happen about the same time as the jars are ready, but if not, turn off the heat and keep them until the jars are ready.

Put the lids and rings on to boil according to the manufacturers directions; that is they should boil for 5 minutes.

Empty the sterilized jars - half into the sink and half back into the canner - and set them out on a heat-proof board. Fill the jars with the hot pickle mixture. Wipe the rims with a paper towel dipped in the boiling water to be sure they are clean and clear. Top with the boiled lids and rims, and seal them snuggly but not too tightly. Pop them back into the boiling water in the canner, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove and let the jars cool. Test for seals, and label the jars.

Last year at this time I made Summer Vegetable & Lentil Soup. Have to admit I've been taking my lentils in salad form, this year.


Kevin Kossowan said...

I've never been so jazzed about pickles as this year, and I'm a pretty big fan of bread and butter pickles. But my cukes are...teenie. Maybe in a month..

Ferdzy said...

Kevin, in TWO days! Cukes go from "teeny" to "over-ripe boats" in three days. Really! You'll be amazed. But of course, you will never have quite the right number for a batch ripe at once. That goes without saying.

And yeah, pickles are sooo much fun. I still love dills, but now I've acquired a taste for the B&Bs it's great to make both, and more. I'm not quite up to the old Mennonite standard of hospitality, where you put "seven sweets and seven sours" on the table for company, but one of these years!

Joanne said...

I adore bread and butter pickles above all others! So happy that you posted this. I can't think of anything better to put on a sandwich.

Phiddy said...

It is no longer recommended to boil the the canning lids. They should be submerged in 1 inch of water. Set the lids on the stove on "Low" so the water gets hot but does not boil. If you want the added aggravation, use boiling water when you cover the lids. Keep the lids hot until you use them.

And if you are processing your food (jam, jelly or, pickles) in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes or more, you do not have to boil your jars. Just wash them well and keep them warm so you don't create a thermal shock when you place them in the hot water of the canner.


Sunshine Pickles said...

Great recipe for Bread & Butters. I am an intern here at Sunshine Pickles, and they are one of my favs..but you just can't get me away from the classic dill pickle.