Deliciously sweet, sliced cucumbers, in an old fashioned brine – these bread and butter pickles are easy enough for a beginning canner to make, perfect on top of your burger, or just to eat right out of the jar.
Cucumbers are almost always a bumper crop here on our little homestead. They grow so well, we typically can’t keep up with them. We’ll bring in baskets and baskets full of them and can only eat so many fresh… so what to do? Make bread and butter pickles.
We really love pickling things around here. From watermelon rind pickles to pickled green tomatoes, it’s easy and a fantastic way to put some extras in the pantry for winter.
What are Bread and Butter Pickles?
Well, if you’ve never had them, you’ll be happy to know they taste nothing like bread and butter. If they did… we probably wouldn’t indulge in them.
Unlike sweet pickles, these are slightly more sweet and sour flavored. And they’re nothing like the vinegary taste of dill pickles. Instead, they’re crisp and sweet with just the right amount of tangy.
Why do they call them bread and butter pickles?
The name is actually attributed to a pair of cucumber farmers, Omar and Cora Fanning, who took their surplus of cucumbers and pickled them in a sweet, tangy brine and then bartered with them for staples such as bread and butter. They were reportedly referred to as “Fannings Bread and Butter Pickles”.
How to Pickle Like a Pro
Begin with Freshly Picked Cucumbers
You need the freshest cucumbers you can get, to achieve nice, crisp pickles. Waxed cucumbers from the produce section at the supermarket aren’t going to pickle very well. Not only are they several days old (darn food miles), but they’re covered in a food grade wax that won’t allow the brine to penetrate the fruit very well.
It’s best to opt for fresh cucumbers right out of your own personal garden, or hop over to the local farmer’s market or local vegetable stand on Saturday morning. Choose fairly uniform cucumbers that aren’t spoiled.
Scrub Well and Remove Ends
Always scrub the outside of your cucumbers well, and slice off the last 1/4″ of the fruit. The reason for this is because blossoms contain an enzyme that will soften your pickles. Always slice those ends off, and toss them into the compost or give them to the chickens.
Soak in Ice and Salt
Cucumbers are full of moisture. Soaking them in a salty ice bath for a few hours before you put them in brine, will help draw out moisture (due to the salt), and keep them firm and crispy from the ice. I place mine in an ice bath of water and salt, and then put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour, before pickling. Rinse well when finished, in cold water.
Use Pickling Salt (or Canning Salt)
Regular table salt has anti-caking agents and other things that will turn your brine a really ugly, murky color. While it won’t hurt the end result – most people don’t care to crunch on brown pickles.
Use Vinegar with 5% Acidity
Whether you choose apple cider vinegar (which will make the brine a tad darker), or regular distilled vinegar – opt for vinegar with 5% acidity for the best results.
If using distilled vinegar, choose an organic brand to avoid genetically modified corn, since distilled vinegar is made from corn and rye. And, of course, if you have a corn allergy, use apple cider vinegar.
How to Can Bread and Butter Pickles
Step 1: Soak Your Cucumbers
Like I mentioned before, to create a nice, crisp pickle – start with fresh produce and soak it in a salty ice bath. Simply slice your cucumbers into 1/4″ slices. Discard the ends to the compost.
Slice up your onions thinly, then place both in a large bowl full of ice water and 1/2 cup of salt. Place it in the fridge and let them soak for 1 hour or longer, if time allows.
Drain them through a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water before you begin brining.
Step 2: Gather Your Canning Supplies
For this recipe you’re going to need:
- Water Bath Canner
- 5 Pint Jars, Lids & Rings
- Canning Tools:
- Lid Lifter
- Jar Lifter
- Bubble Remover
- Canning Funnel
- Large Stainless Steel Saucepan
Step 3: Prepare Canner, Jars and Lids
Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse well, no need to dry. Then place jars on a rack in the bottom of a water bath canner, adding water to both the jars and the canner, until both are roughly 2/3rds full. Place the lid on top, and allow the water to boil for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars.
Place the lids in a small saucepan and allow that water to boil for at least 10 minutes as well.
Keep jars and lids hot over low heat until ready to use.
Step 4: Make Brine
Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large stainless saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar.
Thoroughly rinse the soaking cucumbers and onions, then stir them into the boiling brine. Return the mixture with the vegetables to a boil.
Once boiling – reduce heat to keep mixture warm, and begin filling jars by carefully ladling hot pickles into the prepared jars using a canning funnel. Remove bubbles and adjust for 1/2″ headspace. Wipe rims, center lids, and tighten rings to just finger tight, then carefully place in water bath canner.
Step 5: Process Jars
Once all jars have been packed and placed in canner, ensure they’re completely covered with water. Bring canner to a boil and process jars for 10 minutes. Remove the lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars to cool for 12-24 hours before checking seal. Allow the pickles to sit a minimum of 2 weeks to develop the best flavor. Store in a cool, dark place.
How Long Will Bread and Butter Pickles Store?
These pickles will store on a shelf (assuming the seals are good), for 6 months to a year. However, once opened, refrigerate and use within one to two weeks, and try to keep the pickles below the brine level during that one to two week period.
Enjoy your pickles with:
Prep Time: 3 hours
Processing Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Sweet, tangy pickles, these bread and butter pickles are perfect on top of your burger or other large sandwich, or even just straight out of the jar.
- 10 cups Sliced Pickling Cucumbers (1/4″ slices, ends discarded)
- 4 Medium Sweet Onions (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup Pickling Salt
- 3 cups Distilled Vinegar
- 2 cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Mustard Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Celery Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- Slice cucumbers and onions, then place in a large, stainless steel bowl combined with salt. Cover with cold water and ice cubes, place in refrigerator, and allow mixture to stand for at least two hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, seeds, and turmeric in a large, 5 quart stainless saucepan. Allow mixture to come to a boil, and stir to dissolve sugar.
- Place rinsed vegetables in brine mixture and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and keep mixture warm while packing jars.
- Pack jars leaving 1/2″ of headspace. Remove air bubbles, and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rims, center lids, finger tighten rings, then place jars back into canner.
- Completely cover packed jars with water, place on lid, bring canner to a boil, and process jars for 10 minutes. Remove lid, wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, check seals, then allow them to sit for a minimum of 2 weeks to develop flavor.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 28 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 9mg Carbohydrates: 6g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 6g Protein: 0g