Bread-and-Butter Pickles

This recipe is a very simple one to do and the results are just what you would envision: tons more flavor than store-boughts, a little less sweet, and a little zestier. The better the cucumbers means the better the pickles, and local ones win most taste tests. Even better, grow your own! In a pinch, English-style cucumbers are good because of their tender skin that hasn’t been sprayed with that wax. I don’t like to cook the cucumbers in the pickling liquid, but rather to pour the liquid over the cucumbers and let the heat of the liquid do the rest. This means the vegetables don’t overcook, resulting in a crisper pickle.

These pickles are what we pair with a torchon of foie gras, because of an unease with anything too fancy.–Hugh Acheson

LC Picky About Pickles Note

In our experience, a good many people pretty like only the kind of pickles they grew up with. These are not pickles for those people. These are pickles for the open-minded. Witness the intriguing ingredient list, which calls for cukes, Vidalias, fennel seeds (wouldn’t some slivers of fennel be lovely pickled like this?!), turmeric, mustard seeds, allspice, cider vinegar, sugar, and a few other surprises. Even better, you can make these as quick pickles, simply putting them in the fridge and consuming them within 10 or so days. Or you can process them the old-fashioned way in their jars and put them up for next winter. As a complete non sequitur, we’ve no idea where the saying “in a pickle” comes from, though we have to say, we’d love to find ourselves in a jar of these slightly sweet specimens…

Special Equipment: pint-size canning jars

Bread-and-Butter Pickles Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 3 H, 25 M
  • Makes 3 to 4 pints


  • 10 small pickling cucumbers (4 to 5 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, preferably Vidalia
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh celery leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cold water


  • 1. Wash the cucumbers under cold water and then slice them into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Peel the onion and slice into 1/3-inch strips.
  • 2. Mix the onion and cucumbers in a medium bowl and add half of the kosher salt. Toss well and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • 3. Rinse the onion and cucumbers well using a colander and cold water to remove the salt. When thoroughly rinsed and drained, tear the celery leaves over the mixture, and toss. Pack the cucumbers, onion, and celery leaves into clean pint jars.
  • 4. Using a nonreactive pot, combine the remaining salt, red pepper flakes, fenugreek, fennel seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, allspice, vinegar, sugar, sorghum, and cold water. Bring to a rapid boil and then pour evenly over the cucumber mixture.
  • 5. Screw on the lids, leave the jars out on the counter for 2 hours, and then place in the fridge. At this point the pickles are pretty much done but they will be at their best a day or two later. The shelf life, without the hot canning process, is about 10 days. If you’d like the jars to keep for the long haul, follow your jar manufacturer’s directions for canning.
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