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Bread and butter pickles are the pickle almost everyone likes. They seem to have that balance between tangy, sour, and sweet. It’s just enough sourness to tickle the side of your cheek, but it soon leaves with a pleasant sweetness left behind.
Like a lot of homemade goods, you can now easily find packets that only require vinegar and water to create the brine. They work and taste fine, but are also packed with more sugar and more salt. That’s no good as we get more than enough of those two from so many other sources.
This recipe offers a completely homemade approach. The mixture has simple ingredients that come together for a perfectly simple and crave-able pickle.
What makes a bread and butter pickle unique?
I always ask myself: why do so many of us seek out a bread and butter pickle? I think it’s due to one main thing. Dill pickles have one main spice/herb that’s used: dill. They’re often on the sour side with a strong briny bite.
In contrast, bread and butter pickles use a blend of turmeric, clove, celery seed, and red pepper flakes for a rounded-out flavor. None of the spices stand out, but all blend together for a richer taste. The brine is heavy on vinegar but is balanced out with sugar to give a slight sweetness. This all creates a perfectly neutral pickle that both sour and sweet fans like.
Can any cucumber be used for pickles?
I grow various types of cucumbers and they all can be delicious when made into pickles. But there are a few things to know about which varieties work best.
Most homegrown cucumbers are called pickling cucumbers and have telltale distinctive bumpy skin and smaller size. Smaller cucumbers, in the range of one to two inches, have fewer seeds in the middle, which makes them perfect for slicing into chips or spears.
While they may be easier to find, the English or hothouse style cucumbers, known for their smooth skins, that come wrapped in plastic at grocery stores are not the best option. They have a tendency to get soft once canned. No one wants that!
If possible, it’s best to stick with a pickling cucumber.
Watch how to make these bread and butter pickles
How to Can Bread and Butter Pickles
- 1 gallon sliced cucumbers
- 3 medium onions sliced
- ½ cup canning salt
For the brine
- 3 cups vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp whole cloves
- 2 tsp celery seed
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp canning salt
- In a large bowl, combine the sliced cucumbers, onion, and ½ cup salt. Mix to incorporate and pour into a large colander. Set inside a large bowl for 3 hours to drain excess water.
- After 3 hours, discard the drained liquid. Rinse the cucumbers and onion well and allow to drain.
- Prepare the water bath, 8 pint jars, lids, and rings.
- In a 4-quart kettle, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, cloves, celery seed, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and 2 tsp salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer while preparing the cucumbers in jars.
- Pack jars with rinsed and drained cucumbers and onions, leaving ½-inch headspace. Pour brine over prepared cucumbers and onions, still leaving that ½-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth to remove any drips. Place on lids and rings, tightening to fingertip tightness.
- Place jars in the boiling water bath. Bring back to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Check with the USDA canning guide and adjust the process time for altitude.
- Remove from the water bath and cool for 12-24 hours. Remove rings to ensure a good seal and store for up to one year.