Likely named for its reputation as an inexpensive sandwich stuffer during the Depression, this old-time favorite is among the sweetest of pickles, but with a delightfully sour bite. Follow these easy, step-by-step instructions to make your own bread and butter pickles using cucumbers straight from the garden.
What You'll Need
You will need: 5 lbs pickling cucumbers / 2 medium onions / 1 gallon water / 1 cup kosher or pickling salt / 5 cups white vinegar / 5 cups sugar / 2 tablespoons mustard seed / 2 teaspoons celery seed / 2 teaspoons turmeric / 1 teaspoon whole cloves / large non-reactive pot / water bath canner / six 1 pint canning jars with lids and bands
Step One: Slice Cucumbers
Wash 5 pounds of cucumbers, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large container. Thinly slice 2 medium onions and add to the sliced cucumbers.
Step Two: Add Salt Brine
Dissolve 1 cup of kosher or pickling salt in one gallon of water and pour over the cucumber-onion mix to cover. Non-iodized salt is used in pickling brines to avoid the discoloration from produce coming into contact with iodine.
Step Three: Add Ice and Refrigerate
Cover the top of cucumbers with a layer of ice, cover the container with a lid or towel and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight to allow cucumbers time to soak up the salt.
Step Four: Heat Water Bath
Before preparing the vinegar brine, fill a water bath canner or large pot with water and place over high heat. Bring water to a boil as pickles are being prepared.
Step Five: Prepare Vinegar Brine
Pour 5 cups of white vinegar into a large, non-reactive pot over high heat.
Step Six: Add Spices to Brine
Add five cups sugar, two tablespoons mustard seed, two teaspoons celery seeds, two teaspoons turmeric and one teaspoon whole cloves to vinegar and bring to a boil.
Step Seven: Rinse Cucumbers
Use a colander to drain salt water from the cucumber-onion mix and rinse with cold water.
Step Eight: Add Cucumbers to Brine
Add cucumber-onion mix to boiling brine. Allow the mixture to return to a near boil, then remove from heat.
Step Nine: Prepare Canning Jars
Prepare six 1-pint canning jars with lids and bands. Jars may be sterilized by placing in boiling water for 10 minutes. Alternatively, wash jars in a dishwater set to hot wash or wash them and place in a 225 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
Step Ten: Pack Jars
Using tongs, pack bread and butter pickles into pint jars, then pour brine into jars to cover cucumbers. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace to ensure jars seal properly when processed.
Step Eleven: Cap Jars
Cap jars with sterile lids and bands. Tighten firmly, but take care not to overtighten.
Step Twelve: Process Jars
Process jars for 15 minutes in boiling water bath to seal.
Step Thirteen: Cool and Store
Remove jars from water bath and allow to rest at room temperature to cool. If the jars have sealed properly, a satisfying ping will be heard as the jars cool and a seal is established. Any jars that do not seal correctly should be stored in the refrigerator until used. Canned bread and butter pickles have a shelf life of at least 12 months when stored in a cool, dry location, but should be refrigerated once opened.