Let the Odyssey Begin: Home Pickling

With a bounty of Kirby cucumbers, what can you do but pickle?

All I can say is, it’s good to have a partner in this endeavor. And I was fortunate to have two: Hubs and my Cuisinart. No, Hubs is not in same category as Cuisinart, but you know what I mean. I had never made pickles before, so this was an adventure indeed. We decided on Bread & Butter Pickles for a few reasons:

  1. Hubs loves them
  2.  Can be made “refrigerator-style,” like Dan’s awesome pickled string beans. No need for serious canning experience, of which I have none
  3. Good value! We’ve been buying jars of these at the green market for $6 or $7

Truth be told, Hubs has got me hooked on these Bread & Butter Pickles, too. I am used to traditional sour dill pickles (maybe even a half-sour), which are the kind I grew up on.

We’d go downtown to the Lower East Side with my grandmother and buy them out of the barrel at Gus’s, back when the LES was still populated by discount merchants and Jewish delicatessens, not hipsters and cocktail bars.

Here’s what we did: We worked off of 2 recipes we found online: borrowing ingredients from Smitten Kitchen’s blog and  and technique from an old-school recipe on  A Way to Garden. I liked the fact that Smitten Kitchen used about 1/2 the sugar used in the old-school recipe. And, skipping to the chase, you would never know. These pickles are sweet and succulent at the same time; you’d never think they needed more sugar.

Ingredients: 

4 pounds cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
4 bell peppers sliced lengthwise [ok to omit if you don’t have them on hand]
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1cup Diamond Kosher salt [Updated: Why Diamond? Read this first.]
2 cups sugar (1/2 cup per pound of cucumbers)
1 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar [Original recipe calls for less, but we were low on liquid, so I’d recommend more]
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon celery seed

Instructions:

Use Cuisinart or mandoline to slice cucumbers and onions. It is definitely a time saver and worth the extra time afterwards  to wash all the piece parts of the equipment.

In a very large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peppers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a large pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring back to a boil.

Pickles in the pot: kirbies transformed in 5 minutes to pickle green color

Simmer for 5 minutes, then ladle them (with the liquid) into clean jars. Be careful as you are ladling boiling hot liquid into the jars. Hubs was particularly helpful in this step. As the jars cool, you should hear the light “pop” of the seal vacuuming tight. Once cooled, keep them in the fridge. They will keep quite well for six months or so.

Bread & Butter Pickles ready to go

Yield: 14 1/2 pint jars. Of course, I mis-placed a lid from one of the Ball glass jars at the end of the process and had to use an old jam container. Ah well.

5 thoughts on “Let the Odyssey Begin: Home Pickling

  1. My mom used to make this type of pickle – I’m not sure I have her recipe though. I sure hope there are some left at Thanksgiving. By the way, I wouldn’t take “hubs” for a sweet pickle guy.

  2. Looks great! I’m partially to blame for the change in the LES……I built a 22 unit condo building on Essex Street a couple of blocks from Gus’s and renovated a couple others right around there. I hope all the new residents are shopping at Gus’s!

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