Photo by Jessica Walliser
I can enjoy my garden in the dead of winter thanks to preserved foods, like my Nana’s famous bread-and-butter pickles.
Although winter’s chill has arrived in full force here in my Pennsylvania garden, I’ve been able to enjoy a little culinary sunshine. In my fridge and freezer sits a few pints of a friend’s strawberry freezer jam, lots of frozen veggies from my garden and quarts upon quarts of my homemade pickles. The crunch of the pickles has been so delightful beside winter stews at dinner and grilled cheese sandwiches at lunch.
I know we are far from pickling season, but I thought I would share my favorite bread-and-butter pickle recipe with you to give you something to look forward to until the growing season approaches. It was my Nana’s recipe, handed down from her mother, and everyone who tries them tells me they are the best bread-and-butter pickles they’ve ever had. Because we have an extra fridge, I keep them cold year-round—rather than on the pantry shelf—so we can always have that crisp crunch whenever we need a pickle fix!
Recipe: Eva’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles
If you’ve never canned before, be sure to read the USDA’s “Principles of Home Canning” before getting started. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is also a good source to help answer your beginner canning questions.
- 4 quarts sliced rounds of cucumbers (I like mine 1/4-inch, thick but my mom likes hers 1/2-inch thick)
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (I prefer red because it looks so pretty!)
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2½ cups white vinegar
- 2½ cups white sugar
- 1 T. mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
In a large pot, combine cucumbers, onions and bell pepper. Cover with several inches of ice, and add salt. Cover with a tea towel and let sit on counter for three hours.
After three hours, drain and pick out any still-frozen ice cubes.
In a separate stock pot, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then add drained cucumbers. Bring back to almost boiling, stirring frequently.
Pack cucumbers into clean, sterilized jars, making sure each jar gets at least one clove. Add liquid to fill, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Use a rubber spatula to swipe around the inside of the jar, removing any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth and put a seal on top. Screw the band on and process in a hot water bath with the water at least 1 inch above the jar tops for 10 minutes. (If the water level dips below 1 inch from the rim, add additional boiling hot water to the jar.) Water temperatures should be maintained at 180 to 185 degrees F.
Carefully remove the jars, and let them sit on the counter to cool. You’ll hear the pop of the tops sealing—any that don’t seal should be refrigerated and eaten right away. The rest can go on a shelf or in the fridge until you are ready for your pickle fix!