|There is no store-brand comparison to homemade bread-and-butter sweet pickles.|
During the Depression, pickles were as common as "bread and butter"
on the dinner table; hence, their name.
I'm particular about my pickles. The two recipes I love the most for bread-and-butter pickles, alas, are not to be had. Both are in Michigan. The first is by Murlynn, a wonderful Michigan friend who grew her own cukes and made the most incredible pickles. I savored each and every one and felt fortunate whenever I had a jar of her B and B's in my fridge. The next was by a woman who helped run a hamburger booth at the local summer socials held across from my studio. How I miss those pickles. Why didn't I ask, beg, and plead for the recipes?
|Pickles begin as small cucumbers. They are sliced and soaked or "pickled"|
in a solution of vinegar with spices and sugar.
I went through a ton of recipes before settling on the following. I liked this one because it used fresh, whole spices, not just "pickling spices" which is mostly mustard seed, anyway. Most recipes used a 1-1 ratio of sugar to vinegar. I cut back on the red pepper flakes and, before packing the jars, I placed several slices of fresh garlic in the bottom of each.
Canning really is not difficult and the results are so self satisfying, especially in winter when you open up your summer bounty. Follow these few rules:
- Have your kitchen clean and ready to go. Keep a sink full of hot sudsy water to which you've added a capful of bleach. Use clean towels and dishcloths, not sponges. Use metal utensils, not plastic or wood.
- Have your pots, jars, lids, rings, spoons, all lined up and ready to go. Keep the jars simmering in the hot-water bath until ready to use. Keep the lids and rings in a medium saucepan in simmering water, likewise.
- Keep your counters clear of clutter.
- 2.5-3 pounds pickling-sized cucumbers
- 1 medium onion
- 1/4 cup pickling salt
- 2 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 1/4 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 cup apple-cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 6 allspice berries (and a pinch of ground allspice)
- 6 whole cloves (and a pinch of ground cloves)
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
- 6 pint-sized canning jars
Early in the day: wash cucumbers thoroughly. Do not peel. Slice into generous 1/4-inch rounds and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the onion. Add to cukes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pickling salt and thoroughly mix. The salt draws out the water from the cucumber resulting in a crisp chip. Place a clean, cotton towel on top (not terrycloth) and cover with several inches of ice. Place in refrigerator for about 4 hours.
|Slice the cukes. Add onion and salt.|
|Cover with a clean, cotton towel and ice. Refrigerate.|
|Remove towel and ice.|