Summer seemed to linger a little longer this year — we are still eating amazing field grown tomatoes, berries and peaches here in NYC — but a recent cold snap had us realizing that this was all about to end, and now we have pickling and preserving on our minds. Like these bread and butter pickles. Sweeter than traditional pickles, yet tarter than a sweet pickle, bread and butter pickle are a traditional accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers. The origin of the name is lost to the ages, but it is commonly believed to date back to the Great Depression when when cheap and often home grown fresh cucumbers were eaten for lunch with bread and butter, as a cheap and filling meal. At the end of the season, the cucumbers were pickled to last the rest of the year.
For the best pickle, look for unwaxed cucumbers that have a vibrancy to their green and are as blemish free as possible. Using kosher or pickling salt (rather than table salt) will keep your brine from becoming cloudy, and your pickles from discoloring.
Our pickles at their best after about two weeks in the jar — when they’ve had time to develop their sweet, tart, and spicy flavor. A batch or two of these will keep you in cukes until next summer.
Bread & Butter Pickles
What You Will Need:
4 lbs Kirby cucumbers, sliced in ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kosher or pickling salt
Lots of ice cubes
3 cups sugar
2 tbs mustard seeds
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 dried hot chiles of your choice
4 1/4-inch thick slices fresh ginger
3 cups cider vinegar
A heavy plate
Large bowl and Large nonreactive saucepan
Water Bath Canning Kit
Canning Jars Lifter
4-6 pint-sized canning jars, with lids and rims
What To Do
Put the cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl. Add the salt and toss to coat, then transfer the mixture into a colander set inside a large bowl. Cover the cucumbers with ice cubes, and weight with the heavy plate and chill for 3-4 hours. Drain them, then rinse and drain again.
Put the sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, celery seeds, peppercorns, chilies, ginger, and vinegar in a large nonreactive saucepan, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir and let simmer for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill until the cucumbers are ready.
Meanwhile, wash your pint canning jars with their lids and rings in very hot and soapy water, then place in a large pan or bowl and cover with boiling water. Keep them in the hot water until ready to use.
When the cucumbers are ready, remove the jars from the water and pour out any water lingering in the jar.
Bring the pickling liquid back to a boil.
Spoon the cucumber mixture into the jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headroom. Ladle the hot pickling liquid over the cucumbers to cover. Wipe the rims with a clean paper towel dipped in hot water. Place the lid on each jar, then screw on the rings. To seal, invert jars until cool. Store in refrigerator.
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