Bread and butter pickles have a crunchy texture and a sweet, tangy flavor. Learn how to make bread and butter pickles by quick-pickling or water-bath canning.
What Are Bread and Butter Pickles?
Bread and butter pickles are cucumber slices preserved in vinegar, canning salt, sugar, and various spices and herbs by chefs or home cooks. Onions, peppercorns, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves, red pepper flakes, and celery seed are common bread and butter pickle brine flavorings.
Bread and butter pickles are sweeter than dill pickles due to the balance of sugar and vinegar. These crispy pickles go well with hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken sandwiches, or as a side dish with barbecue meats.
The History of Bread and Butter Pickles
Bread and butter pickles got their name from cucumber farmers Omar and Cora Fanning, who traded sweet pickles for grocery staples like bread and butter when they were struggling financially in the 1920s. Another name theory dates back to the Great Depression, when people saved money by eating pickled cucumbers on buttered bread.
Which Cucumbers Are Best for Making Pickles?
To make homemade pickles, purchase pickling cucumbers at the grocery store or farmers' market. Cucumbers for pickling are short, with thin, bumpy skin and firm flesh. These cucumbers soak up the pickling liquid while remaining crunchy. Kirby cucumbers, National Pickling cucumbers, Bush cucumbers, and Boston cucumbers are all pickling cucumber varieties.
How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
Pickling food can be done in two ways: preserving it in a vinegar solution or allowing it to naturally ferment in a salt brine. If you live in a high-altitude area, consult the USDA canning guide for the appropriate processing time. Before beginning the canning process, clean the canning jars, rims, and lids with soapy water to sanitize them. Consider the following methods when making bread and butter pickles:
1. Quick pickling: Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, can be made in twenty-four hours. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool before pouring the brine over the cucumbers and onions in jars. Allow the jars to sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.
2. Canning: To make pickles with a long shelf life, use a canning recipe. Fill the jars halfway with cucumbers, onions, and brine ingredients, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch headspace. The jars should then be tightly sealed. Boil the canning jars in a large pot of water for ten minutes in a hot water bath. With tongs, carefully remove the hot jars and set them aside to cool completely before storing them in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
How to Store Bread and Butter Pickles
The method of storage for pickles is determined by the preparation. Cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months if submerged in a pickling liquid and allowed to ferment. Pickles have a longer shelf life when canned in a hot water bath. Keep the canned pickles in a cool, dark place for up to a year.