This past Sunday I made three separate batches of pickles. Yes, three. My kitchen smelled like vinegar for a couple of days. Totally worth it.
I thought I’d share this recipe for honeyed bread & butter pickles with you first.
If you aren’t familiar with bread & butter pickles, they are a staple at most Southern tables. A restaurant in my hometown (Parramore’s) brings them to you at the table, without much of a chance to turn them down. When I was little, I couldn’t STAND them. These days, I can’t get enough!
According to WikiAnswers, these pickles are called bread and butter pickles because bread and butter together are sweet, and these pickles were apparently just as common as bread and butter on tables during the Depression.
The difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles is in the seasoning. Sweet pickles are made with cinnamon, clove, and allspice in a vinegar and sugar brine. Bread and butter pickles are made with turmeric, mustard, and onions in a vinegar and sugar brine.
I found this recipe for honeyed bread and butter pickles in the Canning For a New Generation cookbook by Liana Krissoff. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to get into canning and want something besides the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving (the original canning Bible).
Honeyed Bread & Butter Pickles (adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissof)
– 8 glass canning pint jars with lids and rings
– approximately 3 pounds of pickling cucumbers (3-4 inches long), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
– 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
– 2 small Vidalia onions, sliced thin
– 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
– 1 tablespoon celery seeds
– 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
– 6 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
– 3/4 cup honey
– 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
Put the sliced cucumbers and onions into a large bowl and toss with the mustard seeds, celery seeds, and red pepper flakes and set aside.
Sanitize your jars: you have two options for this. Most cookbooks will tell you to boil the jars in your canning pot to sanitize them. However, my grandmother taught me to run them through the dishwasher to sanitize them. It’s a whole lot easier, and made even easier by the fact that most dishwashers these days have a sanitize setting (mine does). Be sure to run your lids and rings through the sanitize cycle, as well. It’s best to do this well ahead of time, and leave them steaming hot in the dishwasher until you’re ready to pack the jars.
Prepare the brine: In a nonreactive pot (basically, a heavy pot that is not bare aluminum), combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, the honey, turmeric, mustard powder, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a full rolling boil.
Pack your jars: Work quickly and pack your jars with the cucumbers and onions, but make sure you don’t pack them too tightly. Using a jar funnel, ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving about a half inch from the top of the jar empty (aka “headspace”). Carefully tap the jar on the counter to make sure any bubbles rise to the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the rims of each jar, put a flat lid and a ring on top, and tighten the lids.
Processing: To process the jars (prevents botulism, which is serious stuff), you should already have a giant pot full of boiling water ready to go. Place your full pickle jars into the pot of water, making sure the water covers the jars by at least one inch. Bring the water back up to a full boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove the jars using a jar lifter and set on a towel. You can use regular tongs covered in rubber bands, but it’s wayyyy safer and easier to just pick up a jar lifter on Amazon or at your local grocery store if you live in a less-urban area. Leave the jars there to cool for a few hours, or overnight. As they cool and seal, you’ll hear the lids popping. It’s pretty gratifying! After an hour or two, check to see if each jar is sealed by running your finger over the lids. Often if it hasn’t sealed, this will cause it to do so immediately. Any jars that haven’t sealed after 2 hours, refrigerate and use those first. Sealed jars can be stored indefinitely at room temperature.
I like to let these pickles rest for at least a couple of weeks, but if you’re really anxious, I suppose you could go ahead and eat some. They are pretty tasty!
I also thought I would note that these are not my antique jars (which I do collect). Ball came out this year with a vintage style pint jar, which I absolutely adore! They are much bluer than the old ones, but I guess the old ones could have been this blue when they were first made? Anyway, I just love them. You can order them from Ace Hardware and pick them up at your local store to get free shipping. I’ve officially used all of mine now (I bought two cases of six a while back) and I will definitely be needing more!
All of this pickle making really wore Wallace out, as you can see.
It’s a rough life.
What’s your favorite bread and butter pickle recipe or memory?