As some of my readers may have guessed, I really like pickles. Most of my pickles are quick recipes, ready in a day or two—I am an impatient and hungry kind of guy. For this batch, I waited all of four weeks, but they were worth the wait.
Usually, I use Japanese or Persian cucumbers when I make cucumber pickles. Sweet and sour bread and butter pickles are a classic of American cuisine and call for English pickling cumbers (AKA Gherkins). Many recipes I found produce massive amounts of pickles. I do not have that kind of storage room, so this recipe is for one quart of pickles.
Karl’s Bread and Butter Pickles
5 pickling cucumbers
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
½ cup frozen pearl onions
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. celery seed
1 wide mouthed quart jar with lid
1 small jar lid
1. Rinse and dry the cucumbers.
2. Slice the cumbers into ¼ inch thick coins.
Tip: A mandoline is a useful tool to make this an easy task.
Note: The cucumber plant produces a compound, called cucurbitacin. This is the plant’s defense mechanism to prevent animals from grazing on the tender leaves and shoots. Under certain conditions this compound will spread to the entire cucumber. In most commercially grown cucumbers, the last half inch of the stem end of the cucumber is where the bitterness resides. If you do not want to end up with bitter pickles discard this end.
3. Put the cucumber slices in a bowl and toss with the salt.
4. Sweat the cucumbers for two to three hours, tossing to redistribute the brine.
5. Drain and rinse the cucumbers.
6. Put the onions in a bowl of warm water to defrost and drain.
7. Mix vinegar, water, sugar and spices in a small pot and bring to a boil.
8. Add the cucumbers and onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Tip: Until the vegetables are just heated through.
9. Pack hot cucumbers and onions into a quart jar.
Tip: Layer the onions throughout the jar as you are packing it.
10. Pour in the pickling sauce.
Tip: Add the liquid up to half an inch from the jar lip.
11. Place the small lid upside down over the pickles.
Tip: This smaller lid holds the cucumber slices down into the sauce.
12. Screw on the jar lid so that it is tight/loose.
Tip: Tighten the quart jar’s lid until it is on tightly and then back it off about an eight of a turn.
Note: This allows the air to escape when you are boiling the jar, but does not allow the water into the jar. If you leave the jar totally sealed, the pressure of the heated air in the jar could crack the glass.
13. Put the pickle jar in a pot and cover it with hot water.
14. Bring the pot to a boil and heat the jar for 15 minutes.
15. Remove the jar and tighten the lid completely.
16. Cool the pickles completely on the counter and then store in the refrigerator for 3-6 weeks.
Tip: If you prefer you could simply store it in a cool place—root cellar, cold garage, etc.
17. Once the jar is opened, they should be eaten within two weeks.