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.
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.
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.
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.
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.