Summertime is a time filled with happy memories of childhood. Family reunions out on the lake. Working with grandpa in the garden.
It was in the making of these memories that I learned to love home-grown fruits and vegetables. To favor small batch canning; and to know that with a little time and a lot of love, you can easily provide deliciously healthy concoctions to your family for a fraction of the price.
My great-grandmother made the best plum jelly. I scarcely pass by a tree loaded down with these perfectly purple gems where I do not think of her.
My grandpa made the best pickled okra and chowchow I’ve ever had.
My dear aunt Teena…her specialty was bread and butter pickles. Well, having been honored to have her in my home for a period of time before her passing, I can tell you that she had many specialties. She was a darn good cook. But for whatever reason, bread and butter pickles stand out as one of the most memorable things she ever made me.
Tonight, I would like to round out this holiday weekend by honoring her memory while I share with you my version of bread and butter pickles.
Inspired by classic bread and butter recipes, but made with organic ingredients, palm sugar instead of the traditional white fluff; organic raw apple cider, and cucumbers fresh from the garden.
I understand that not everyone has the patience, ability or space to grow their own garden. Fortunately, cucumbers are affordable and typically available this time of the year at your local farmer’s market or through your local CSA.
Varieties like bush pickle, salad bush and spacemaker are great for container gardens. Because these varieties naturally grow smaller cucumbers, they also make ideal cucumbers for pickling.
Traditional picklers include A&C Picking, Parisian, Little Leaf and Parigno Cornichon varieties. Pickling cucumbers grow with tiny spikes and spines which can easily be removed during the cleaning process.
If you do need to purchase these through your local grocery store, make sure you take the time to scrub off any wax that may be present on the peel. Meant to help preserve the cucumber and increase shelf time, this wax can trap dangerous chemicals onto the peel, will cloud the preserving liquid and will turn your pickles brown.
Additionally, be sure to cut off each end and discard before slicing the remainder of the vegetable. The stem end is great for eating, but seems to be a thicker texture, not ideal for the pickling process. The flower end contains enzymes that can soften your batch and cause your pickles to turn brown. Nobody wants soft, brown pickles.
Without further adieu, I present you with my recipe for bread and butter pickles and wish you the most joyous of memories this beautiful season.
Organic Bread and Butter Pickles (Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)
3lbs Sliced and Trimmed Pickling Cucumbers
4 medium Yellow Onions, sliced thin
½ c Pickling Salt
3 cups Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (5% acidity)
2 c Palm Sugar
2 Tbs Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Celery Seeds
1 tsp Ground Tumeric
5 Pint (16 oz) Glass Preserving Jars with Lids and Bands
I also recommend this 5-piece canning set.
In large bowl, combine sliced cucumbers, onions and salt. Cover in cold water and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Drain and rinse with cold running water until drained through.
Prepare boiling water canner (a large stockpot…one large enough to fry a turkey in…works well, too). Heat jars and lids in simmering, not boiling water, until ready to use. I repeat, do not boil jars and lids. This is because boiling runs the risk of melting (not just softening) the bands needed to seal the lids to the jars. Watch your water, you will be fine.
In large saucepan, combine vinegar, palm sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Bring to boil, dissolve sugar and then stir in vegetables. Return mixture to boil, cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until cucumbers are slightly tender.
Remove jars from simmering water, 1 at a time, packing each with hot vegetables as you go (leave liquid). Use headspace tool to ensure ½ inch headspace.
Once all jars are filled with hot vegetables, ladle in hot pickling liquid over vegetables, making sure to leave ½ inch headspace.
Wipe each rim clean.
Removing hot lids from simmering water, center each on respective jar. Apply metal band until it is fingertip tight.
Bring water to boil, adding more if needed to ensure enough height to cover the jars while in upright standing position.
Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, adjusting as needed for altitude.
Remove jars and cool.
Check lids after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
If lid is not securely sealed, immediately move the jar to the refrigerator and enjoy pickles within 14 days.
If lid is secure, for ideal flavor, allow pickles to stand for 4 to 6 weeks. Store in temperature controlled room for up to 6 months.
Now that you have my version of the classic bread and butter pickles, be sure to visit Ingredient Challenge Monday to see what amazing recipe Shea has created for this month’s challenge, and do not forget to link up your own cucumber creation!
Have a great week!