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Bread and Butter Pickles

This bread and butter pickles 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 cucumbers in the pickling liquid; rather I 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 bread and butter 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 much like only the sort of pickles they grew up with during childhood. These bread and butter pickles are not the pickles for those people. These are pickles for the open-minded. Witness the intriguing ingredient list, which calls for cukes, Vidalias, turmeric, mustard seeds, and allspice, among a few other surprises, including fennel seeds (wouldn’t some slivers of fresh fennel be lovely pickled like this?!). Perhaps even better than the ingredient list, though, is the fact that you can make these as quick pickles, meaning you can simply put them in the fridge and consume them within 10 or so days, or you can process them the old-fashioned way in jars and put them up for next winter. While we’re on the topic of pickles, as an almost 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 1. Rinse the cucumbers under cold water and then slice them into rounds about 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Peel the onion and slice into 1/3-inch-wide strips.
  • 2. Mix the onion and cucumbers in a medium bowl and add half the kosher salt. Toss well and let the cucumbers rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • 3. Dump the onion and cucumbers into a colander and rinse well under cold running water to remove the salt. Tear the celery leaves over the mixture and toss everything to combine. Pack the cucumbers, onion, and celery leaves into clean pint jars.
  • 4. in a nonreactive pot, toss the remaining salt, red pepper flakes, fenugreek, fennel seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, allspice, vinegar, sugar, sorghum, and cold water. Bring to a rolling boil and then pour it over the cucumber mixture, divvying the spiced liquid evenly among the jars. Screw on the lids, leave the jars out on the counter for 2 hours, and then place them in the fridge.
  • 5. At this point, the pickles are pretty much done, but they’ll be at their best a day or two later. The shelf life for these quick pickles—if you made them as directed here, 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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