Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bread and Butter Pickles

Pickles! Pickles are my new project. I don't grow cucumbers of any kind, so I bought the cukes at a bargain price from the Farmers' Market. I bought fresh dill, too, for later. Sweet bread & butter pickles were first on my list.

The recipe comes from one of my go-to books for canning: Yes, you Can! And freeze and dry it, too by Daniel Gasteiger (a.k.a. City Slipper).

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 quarts cucumbers (about 20 four to five inch cucumbers)
4 medium sized onions (or 1-2 large onions)
5 Tablespoons pickling or sea salt (I used sea salt)
5 or more pounds of ice
5 cups white or cider vinegar (I used cider vinegar, and I think it made a difference)
5 cups sugar

for prepping jars:
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed

1. Rinse cucumbers. Clean with vegetable brush if needed. Cut into the appropriate shapes for pickles. Bread and butter pickles are usually 1/8 to 1/4 inch disks. I used the food processor, and I felt it cut the pieces slightly smaller than I wanted. I'm not sure if I'll really want to take the time to slice them by hand next time; maybe. Discard the end pieces.
2. Peel the onions and cut them into 1/2 inch wedges. Separate the layers and put the onions with the cucumbers into a large container. I do mean large. Daniel suggests finding a container that will hold twice the volume of pickles & onions. I used a large stock pot.
3. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables. Mix with your hands until the salt is well distributed. Cover the vegetables with water and dump the ice on top. If the cukes and onions float, set a weight on top such as an inverted plate with something heavy on top. Mine didn't float; this wasn't a problem. Let vegetables steep for three (yes, 3) hours.
4. Some time during that three hours, make coffee. I mean, some time during those three hours, prepare jars: eight pints or four quarts.
5. In a large stainless steel cooking pot, combine vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
6. While the vinegar and sugar boil, pour the ice and water off the cucumbers and onions. Drain well.
7. When the vinegar and sugar mixture boils, add the cucumbers and onions all at once. Take care not to splash; this will burn! Stir the cucumbers into the vinegar/sugar brine and keep heating & stirring until the brine just starts to boil. Immediately remove brine from heat.
8. It's time to fill the jars! First, place spices in each jar. For pints: 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric, mustard seed, and celery seed. For quart jars, double the amounts. Then pack the cucumbers and onions tightly inside and ladle brine to cover them. Leave the customary 1/2 inch head space at the top of the jar.
9. Put the lids and bands on the jars. Process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes (pints) to 15 minutes (quarts). Remove jars from hot water bath and let cool.

These pickles are ready to eat immediately and will improve with age. I've already served them to my family and given a jar to my brother's household. The verdict: delicious!

Next project: dill pickles!! I must use up the bunch of dill sitting on the deck.

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