Bread and butter pickles are a great, easy, beginning canner’s recipe. It’s not as labor-intensive as most recipes, doesn’t require a ton of processing time, and it’s honestly hard to screw up!
How Bread and Butter Pickles Got Their Name
Bread and Butter Pickles reportedly got their name because they would be served on bread and butter sandwiches.
The first written account of the phrase “bread and butter pickles” happened in the 1930’s when a pair in Illinois was selling them as sandwich pickles.
However cucumber sandwiches were a popular English cuisine long before then.
For the BEST, fool-proof white sandwich bread recipe, check out my The BEST Homemade Bread Recipe.
And for the EASIEST homemade butter recipe, check out my How To Make Butter At Home.
I’ve also heard that these homemade pickles’ name stuck, however, because they sell out so quickly at Farmer’s Markets they’re a canner’s bread and butter.
Quarts can sell for as much as $8 a piece!
They’re both sweet and tangy, and the pickling ensures they keep their crispness, which is so important in a sandwich.
If you haven’t pickled anything yet, check out Phickle’s post on What is a Pickle.
Amanda goes into great detail on what making a pickle actually does (and how it differs from fermentation).
This recipe walks you through preparing your cucumbers for canning, making the pickling juice and how to can them.
While the whole process does take a lot of time, it’s mostly downtime, waiting for the cucumbers to brine.
Brining is an essential part of making your home pickles crisp. For four more ways to ensure your home pickles are crisp, check out my post.
If sweet pickles aren’t your thing, and you want more tangy flavors check out this recipe for dill pickles.
If you’re short on time, you can always soak them in the brine overnight in the fridge.
Alternatively, if you want to eat them fresh, mix together the pickling liquid and simply store them in the fridge in a mason jar.
Honestly, most of mine don’t make it to canning because the Hubby and baby both get to them first!
These pickles, however, are great sides to eat by themselves, or alongside burgers and brats.
My favorite way to eat them, however, is on toasted bread or naan bread, with goat cheese, spinach and a mustard vinaigrette.
Yummm….now I’m hungry.
How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
There are two ways to make this bread and butter pickle recipe: for canning or as refrigerator pickles.
If you have or grow pickling cucumber, these are designed to be small and firm and stand up to the heat of canning without getting mushy.
However, if you have a ton of slicing cucumbers from the grocery store and you want them to remain firm, let the pickling liquid to come to room temperature before filling your jars and store them in the refrigerator.
Refrigerator pickles will last up to a month. Processed, however, they’ll last well over a year.
For both, however, begin by scrubbing the cucumbers well and cutting away 1/4-1/2 inch of either end.
Cut them into rounds or spears. Combine cucumbers with the onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup salt and pour 1 gallon of cool water over them.
Brine in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Then combine vinegar, sugar, tumeric, mustard seed, celery seed, coriander seed, grated ginger and red chilies or red pepper flakes in a large saucepan and heat to combine.
If you’re making refrigerator pickles, let your pickling liquid cool. If you’ve sliced them in rounds, layer your mason jar full of your cucumber slices.
If you’re making spears, I find laying the mason jars on their side helps me pack them in.
Pour the liquid into your mason jars leaving an inch headspace over the sliced cucumbers, wipe the rims and affix your lids and rings.
For canning process in a water bath canner or a large pot for hot water bath canning and boil for 10 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for quarts.
If you haven’t ventured yet to grow your own cucumbers, I highly recommend them.
They grow great vertically, given a trellis, or can spread along the ground if you’ve got the room.
Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Growing Cucumbers to get started.
This year we’re going to create a tunnel out of cattle fencing for the cucumbers to grow up and plant lettuces below it in the shade.
I’ll post an update letting you know how it works out!
The National Center for Home Food Preservation also recommends using this recipe to pickle zucchini or yellow summer squash instead of cucumbers!
What are you favorite pickle recipes? Do you make your “bread and butter pickles” differently? I’d love to hear about your recipes! Drop a comment below! And of course…
- 4 lbs small cucumbers
- 1 lb small onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground tumeric
- 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp celery seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 small fresh or dried red chilies, diced
- Scrub the cucumbers well, and trim away the stem and blossom ends. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and toss with the onions in a large bowl.
- Cover with a brine of 1/2 cup kosher salt dissolved into 1 gallon of cool water. (Don't worry if someone of the salt doesn't dissolve immediately). Crack two trays of ice over the top and set aside for two hours. Stir from time to time, turning over the layers.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Drain the vegetables, and rinse then with fresh water. Bring the vinegar syrup back to a boil, add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon or clean hands, divide the vegetables among four sterilized pint jars. Then ladle the syrup into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
- Seal with the lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.