How To: Bread & Butter PicklesBy: Lia Grabowski
The South's Bread and Butter
From watermelon rind to pig’s feet, plenty of quirky pickles can be found below the Mason-Dixon, but there’s nothing like the crunch and tang of a classically pickled cucumber to punch up a sandwich or midnight snack. Bread and butter pickles are a Southern staple, a legacy from back in the day when sugar was used as preservative in the South’s sweltering climate.
It’s worth a trip to your farmers market to find just-picked Kirby cucumbers—the fresher the cuke, the better the pickle. For crisper pickles, slice cucumbers ¼-inch or thicker and choose pint jars instead of quart size. (The smaller the jar, the shorter the processing time, thus the more crunch you’ll keep.)
Stick to kosher, canning, or pickling salt to avoid cloudiness in the brine and discoloration of the vegetables. After processing jars in boiling water, keep them upside-down for about 12 hours while cooling for a strong seal. With proper canning, which halts bacteria growth and allows for safe food storage, pickles will keep unopened in your cupboard for months. For a quicker option, skip the water bath altogether for ready-to-go refrigerator pickles.
Bread and Butter Pickles
15 Kirby or pickling cucumbers
1 small Vidalia onion
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1½ tablespoons mustard seeds
Slice cucumbers to ¼-inch thickness or more, depending on preference. For larger pickles, slice on the bias. Thinly slice onion and add to cucumber.
Toss slices in salt and let sit for 1 to 2 hours, then rinse in cool water. Drain well.
Combine vinegars, sugar, turmeric, ginger, celery seed, and mustard seed in large sauce pan. Bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar.
Pack cucumber slices into sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch of headspace at top of jar. Pour hot pickling liquid over cucumber slices, maintaining ½-inch of headspace. Tamp down to remove air.
Put lids on jar until tight, then process in simmering water for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from water bath, tighten jars, and place upside down on a heat-proof surface to cool.