Just Right Bread-and-Butter Pickles

As it turns out, when pickles are good, we eat lots of them. If they are too acid or too sweet, they languish in the pantry. I’ve tried many vegetables and many styles over the years and have concluded that we really only eat a few: “cornichons”, tiny tart cucumber pickles that are a staple of French picnic along with saucisson, baguette, butter, and a pot of “moutarde extra forte”; and bread-and-butter pickles… but only if they aren’t too sweet.

The pickling cucumber plantings are doing fairly well this year. Not well enough to make a lot of cornichons, but well enough to make bread and butters. So bread-and-butters we’ve been making, not too sweet, just right. We eat them with or piled in sandwiches, potato salad, sandwich between fried eggplants, with cold chicken or cold meat … you name it!

Happy to share my recipe below.

bread & butter 3

By the way, pickling cucumber are perfectly fine to eat in salad – and most delicious in cold soups, tzaziki and other sauces. They hold up better to vinegar pickling or to lacto fermentation than salad/thin skinned cucumbers, and are smaller when mature. But other than that, they are very similar. In fact I only planted pickling cucumbers this year and we eat of lot of them (grown to 8″) as salad cucumbers.

bread & butter 1

There is nothing particularly original to my recipe, but it’s one that after trialing way-too-tart pickles and cloying-sweet pickles, we settled on happily.

bread & butter 2

I have converted all of my preserving recipes to grams, because math is a lot easier in metric if I have to scale something up or down.  Case in point below: if I have 2.7 kg of cucumbers, I just multiply everything else by 2.7. A lot simpler than figuring out out to scale from 3.5 lbs to 6.7 lbs, for example. I have not converted the spices and flavoring because the quantities are really small and fully adjustable to taste. Anyway electronic scales are easy to find and inexpensive: I use mine all the time when baking or preserving.

Inspired by “Bread-and-Butters My Way” in The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich (who also blogs about preserving all kinds of yummy stuff at A Gardener’s Table).

Just Right Bread-and-Butter Pickles

Yields approx 3.5 pint jars

  • 1 kg pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6″ long,
  • 150 g small white onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 50 g pickling or table salt
  • 325 ml cider vinegar
  • 325 ml water
  • 75 g sugar
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Additionally for each pint jar

  • 1/2 tsp whole yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch whole celery seeds
  • 2 or 3 hot whole chile peppers
  • a thin slice of fresh ginger (optional)

Rub off cucumber spines; remove stem and blossom ends. Slice the cucumbers approx 1/8 inch to 3/16 inch thick. Layer with salt in a non reactive bowl. Cover with ice-cubes and let rest at room temperature at least 3 hours up to 24 hours.

Drain well.

For long term storage, prepare your jars and canning equipment. If you are only doing one or two jars, you may just want to refrigerate them.

Bring to simmer the vinegar, water, sugar and turmeric, stirring to dissolve sugar.

In each hot jar, put the spices as described above & pack with cucumber slices. Pour the hot vinegar mix over the cucumbers leaving 1/2 inch head space. Close the jars with the lids and rings.

Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes (USDA recommended) or bring the water (with the jars in the pan) to 185F and maintain for 30 minutes.

Alternatively, let the jars cool and refrigerate.




4 thoughts on “Just Right Bread-and-Butter Pickles”

  • I was really enjoying your website and blog and decided to try your B&B pickles and then you lost me. Changing English to Metric doesn’t work for those of us that have no idea what you are talking about. I tried the 2.7 times everything else and just decided that when I read kg, g AND ml there was no way that 2.7 times all of those amounts would work. I KNOW kg & g are dry measures and ml are liquid so how can they both convert the same?

  • Diane, thanks for stopping by! I didn’t change the measurements: I actually use metric routinely as I find it a lot easier.
    So, if you have 2.7 kg of cucumber, you’d multiply the quantities of all other ingredients by 2.7. It makes no difference whether they are weight or volume. You can then round off slightly if you’d like. So it would work as follows
    2.7 kg pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6″ long,
    150 g x 2.7 = 405 g small white onion, peeled and sliced thinly (round to 400 g)
    50 g x 2.7 = 135 g pickling or table salt
    325 ml x 2.7 = 877.5 ml cider vinegar (round to 875 ml)
    325 ml x 2.7 = 877.5 ml water (round to 875 ml)
    75 g sugar = 202.5 g sugar (round to 200g)
    1 tsp x 2.7 = 2.t tsp = 3 scant Tbsp ground turmeric
    With an electronic scale it’s easy weighting out the ingredients. A graduated measuring glass cup (with marks in ml) allows for measuring volume. But since 1 ml of water weighs 1 g of water, you can also weigh the water if you don’t have one of those measuring gizmo. For culinary purposes, you can do the same for vinegar using 1 ml = 1 g (Technically, it’s ever so slightly lighter than water, but not enough to matter).
    Hope that helps

  • Wow, those look delicious! I love bread and butter pickles, but I normally just buy them (Bubbies is my favorite) because I’ve had trouble successfully making them in the past. I think I might have to try your recipe though!

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