Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bread & Butter Pickles

My cucumbers have been doing fantastic—that’s about the only thing doing extremely well in my garden this year. We’ve had so much rain in our part of the world, it’s giving everyone fits with their gardens.
I’ve had an abundance of cucumbers. An “abundance” for me, maybe not for anyone else. Actually, I don’t even get enough at one time for a full batch of pickles, but I didn’t let that stop me from making some pickles. My sweet Jacob loves bread and butter pickles, but they must be homemade—none of that store-bought stuff for him. I was able to make two separate half batches from our garden and thought I’d share the recipe. Thankfully, batches of pickles (unlike jellies and jams) can be halved, doubled, or tripled and still have great results.
We have always used Southern Living's recipe. Bread and butters almost always turn out crunchy and they are super easy to make. Dill pickles can be so finicky and you don’t always get consistent results. I think the moon has to be just right and the proper stars aligned for dill pickles. (No, I’m not bitter at all.) Not so with bread and butters! The recipe on the SL website is for a smaller batch than the recipe in the cookbooks my mom and I have. Below is the recipe I used. I took pictures of most of the process, but with a two year old and a crawling 5.5 month old helping me, I missed a few steps.
My kitchen smells like HEAVEN while the pickles are getting mixed up and while they chill. The smell almost runs my husband out of the house but it smells divine to me, which is funny because I don’t care for bread and butter pickles at all.
Also, I’m assuming you know the basics of canning. If not, please visit here before starting.
Bread & Butter Pickles (Half Batch makes 5-6 pints)
3 lbs cucumbers, washed and sliced
2-3 medium onions, sliced
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/6 c. salt (original recipe calls for pickling salt, but we have always used regular salt and had great results)
Ice—crushed is best, but I’m still old school and have ice trays.
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. white vinegar
1 T. yellow mustard seeds
3/4 t. turmeric
3/4 t. celery seeds
~Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large dutch oven or pot. (I use my 11 quart soup pot. I’ve also just used a large Tupperware container, it just needs to be able to fit in your fridge.) Stir well, then add the salt and stir again. IMG_0771
Add ice and stir well to make sure the ice is distributed evenly throughout the pickle mixture.
Let chill in the fridge for 3 hours and drain. It’s ok if there is a little ice left, just so long as you get all of the water out. Set dutch oven on stove.
Mix together in a bowl remaining ingredients.
Pour over cucumber mixture and mix to coat.IMG_0788
Heat mixture til just boiling. Don’t let it boil for very long at all or you may end up with mushy pickles. Everything will turn a lovely mustard yellow color.
Immediately pack into hot jars (be sure and check the rims for nicks and make sure the rims are clean), put lids on and tighten rings finger tight. Place in a hot water bath canner, cover jars with water 2-3 inches above lids and process 10 minutes (let the jars boil for 10 minutes –set a timer) then remove with a jar lifter. Let jars set for at least 12 hours before moving them. Enjoying the happy popping sounds of the jars sealing!
A word about hot water baths: it’s a commitment. The recipe makes it sound so quick and simple. But it’s not. It takes FOREVER and a day for that massive pot of water to come to a boil. I think it took around an hour. And I started with warm water. Just warning you.