Bread and Butter Pickles!
I’ve spent the summer learning about eating locally and responsibly produced foods, visiting farmer’s markets, participating in a CSA, and reading a whole lot of good books. The book from which this recipe for pickles comes is Put ‘em Up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
This book has a lot to offer newbies like me. She begins her book with a concise but poignant rationale for home preserving and then guides you gently through canning, drying, freezing, and pickling (I’m buying a chest freezer because of this book… it was that good).
In this book, Brooks Vinton invokes the slow food movement and the wisdom of a host of generations to bring us easy to use recipes that work because she helps us understand how they work. If you’re interested in home preserving, but know very little, this is the book for you. If you’re already a pro, you might look elsewhere. Here’s a little snippet from her introduction:
“Why on earth would you do that?” That’s what people want to know when they see me moving through the hardware store balancing five cases of Mason jars on my way to the cash register. It’s often followed by “Aren’t you afraid you’ll kill someone?” I guess these questions pretty much sum up the most widely held beliefs about home food preservation…. Well, I say, not true.
For my first foray into pickling, I decided to start with refrigerator bread and butter pickles. Refrigerator pickles are not canned for long term storage (largely since there aren’t any stores near me selling canning supplies, I’m holding off on canning).
Cukes don’t agree with the stomachs of my loved ones, but pickles do! So bread and butter chips seemed like the place to start (since, as you know, I like to keep it sweet). Here’s the recipe that Brooks Vinton recommends for first-time-picklers:
Bread and Butter Chips from Put ‘em Up!
- 5 lb cucumbers, ends removed, sliced into 1/4″ coins
- 1 lb large onions, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp kosher salt (just make sure not to use salt with added iodine)
- 2 cups ice cubes
- 4 cups white, distilled vinegar (if you plan on canning, never reduce the amount of vinegar or use a different kind of vinegar than called for in a recipe as the acid in vinegar helps keep your canned food shelf-stable)
- 2 cups water (again, if canning, use distilled or un-chlorinated water–Chicago’s tap water uses chlorine to sterilize, but this will mess up your cheese and pickle making)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp celery seed
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- Layer the cukes and onions with 1/2 cup of salt in a (very) large bowl and cover with a layer of ice cubes. Set aside for 2 hours. Drain and rinse in a colander.
- Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seed, peppercorns, celery seed, tumeric, and the remaining 1 tbsp salt in a large, nonreactive saucepan (no aluminum!) and bring to a boil. Add the drained vegetables and return to a boil, stirring to ensure that all of the vegetables are heated through. Remove from heat.
- Refrigerate: ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.