I found some beautiful cukes at the apple farm yesterday and decided to try to make pickles. I went through my grandmother and great-grandmother’s cookbooks in order to find a recipe that would be easy to do for my first time. I choose to do Bread & Butter Pickles from the American Woman’s Cookbook (My great-grandmother's cookbook circa 1920’s-ish. The first few pages are missing so I don't have the publishing date). The recipe looks easy and doesn’t take weeks and weeks to make pickles. Here’s the recipe:
Bread & Butter Pickles
12 medium cucumbers
5 medium onions
1/4 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
Wash cucumbers, peel onions and cut until 1/4-inch rings. Arrange in layers sprinkling salt on each layering. Let stand 2 to 3 hours. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients and heat to boiling. Add cucumbers and onions and simmer 10 minutes. Pack in hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 4 pints.
I cut up the cukes and onions and started layering in a large Pyrex bowl (see picture). Although this recipe doesn’t tell you to do this, the other recipes I have read for Bread & Butter Pickles tell you to place a plate on top of the cukes and put a weight on them in order to help get out the water. So I placed a plate and a weight on them. I kept checking periodically to make sure that there was water actually coming out. I was paranoid that I didn’t put enough salt in between the layers.
One thing I was worried about with this recipe was that you don’t boil the jars in the hot water bath after canning. I hate the boiling water bath part of canning, but I also understand it’s necessary. But why don’t you have to do it for this one? Well, fingers crossed this works out.
I let the pickles.. dewater (for lack of a better word), 2 hours and 40 minutes. I then mixed up the remaining ingredients and brought to boil. I drained the pickles and put them in the mixture to boil for 10 minutes. The cucumbers and onions were significantly softer than when i cut them.
Boiling in the mixture, the cucumbers started to change colour and looked like.. bread and butter pickles. Best of all, they tasted like pickles. I was getting so excited. I stirred every few minutes to make sure that all the cucumbers were getting cooked evenly. I also taste tested to make sure they didn’t go too soft and they tasted soooo good. 10 minutes of simmering came and went and the cucumbers were still pretty crunchy. Are they supposed to be crunchy still or will they soften in the jars? Why doesn’t the recipe tell you this stuff? 20 minutes later I decided to jar them anyway, hoping that they soften a bit more in the jars as they age.
So, first ever bread and butter pickling complete and the pickles in the jars look fantastic. I can’t wait to give these away as gifts to my family this year.