The Road Home

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bread & Butter Pickles

Last year we made our first dill pickles with the cucumbers we grew. The recipe we initially used called for a 50/50 ratio of water and white vinegar. The vinegar flavor for that recipe was way too strong, so we tried cider vinegar and changed the ratio to two parts water to one part vinegar. I thought that recipe was good, but Frank just does not like things that sour.

So, with this cucumber harvest, I am trying out a traditional bread and butter pickle recipe. Hopefully, this will result in a pickle that both of us like. We really try to limit the amount of sugar we use in our diet, so I will only use half of the sugar this recipe calls for. That is my standard practice when using many recipes calling for sugar.

This recipe calls for 10 cups of cucumbers. I hope this is enough.
I figured these onions would be the equivalent of four medium onions. I have some I bought at the store, but since these were in the garden, they are the perfect compliment to the fresh cucumbers.

There were just barely 10 cups of cucumbers, but since this is an experimental recipe, this will do.

Next, slice and add the onions.

Now add 1/2 cup of salt and stir.

Cover with cold water and let sit for two hours.

It is a fairly simple recipe - vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and ground turmeric. The recipe calls for white vinegar. I am using apple cider vinegar because it is not as strong. I think it will be more amenable for Frank.

Put vinegar, sugar and spices on to boil.

Drain the cucumbers and onions, then rinse under cold water.

Add them to the vinegar mixture and bring back to a boil.

I ran the jars, lids and rings through boiling water like we did when we canned beets and carrots. Then we filled the jars with hot cucumbers, covered them with boiling vinegar, wiped the rims of the jars, put on lids and rings and tighten them down snug. We put them on a shelf and covered them with a towel so they would cool slowly and seal.

The first year or so I canned peppers and squash relish, I always ran them through the water bath canner like the directions recommended. Everything was always soft and mushy and we didn't like it. I didn't want to add any artificial, chemical crunch enhancer so I asked some friends what they did. Several people said that they didn't use the water bath. They pack hot vegetables into hot jars, cover with boiling liquid, tighten the lids down tight, cover with a cloth so they will cool slowly and let them seal. It took me a few years, but that is how we do some of our canning now. We have used this technique on jalapenos and it works quite well. But again, it is not recommended. 

Once again...aren't they beautiful? 

Since this is another first time experiment, we hope they taste good and that Frank likes them better than the ones we made last summer. 

Well, a few weeks later we tried the pickles. Frank said they were okay, but I think they are awful. A couple of friends came over for lunch and were gracious enough to try them even after I told them I did not like them at all. The advice I got was use less salt - they were too salty. So I am wondering if I didn't rinse them well enough, or it's just too much salt. Another comment was, they were expecting a sweeter flavor since they were bread and butter pickles, even though they knew I had used half the sugar.

Another good learning experience. I may try this recipe again with less salt and a little more sugar. Try something new today. If it works, you have learned something and it is great. If it doesn't work, you have learned something and you try again. And again. And again.  

And by the way, one of our young, Easter egg hens laid their first green egg today! We are excited. More about them later.

Until next time - Fern.


  1. Howdy Fern - I'm a new F&F fan and this is my first comment here. I'm enjoying reading what you've got to say. Great minds think alike. hee hee. Anyhow, this is my second year making bread and butter pickles (not an expert by any means) which turned out pretty good. IMHO I'd go with the full sugar as I think it balances out the vinegar-ness. My recipe sounds like yours so I think your good there AND yes, rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse again then taste. You can cut down on the salt (pickling salt) but you still got to rinse well. If you have any sweet peppers in the garden, chop some of those up too. Yummy! I made a small batch this week as my cucs are just now coming on. Should be able to make another batch soon.

    So tickled I found you two and a new canning buddy.


    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Now I am wondering if I rinsed them enough. I will have to try again and see how they turn out. We are swimming in cucumbers, so I have plenty to experiment with.

      We're glad you found us.


  2. That sounds similar to my recipe. I also only put half the sugar. Last year I made something that sat in salt water. It was terrible, too salty. This year I skipped that part. We'll see how they turn out. I put a grape leaf in half the jars. Supposed to help with crispness. I am constantly telling my husband, it's an experiment! I learn something each time I have a flop so then I don't feel so bad. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. I have read about adding a grape leaf, but I haven't tried it yet. Thanks for the input!