Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bread & Butter Pickles

The pickle of choice for egg salad, potato salad, and tuna salad in Real Life Kitchen is the humble homemade bread & butter pickle. It's a slightly sour sweet pickle made from cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers with garlic, celery seed, mustard seed, and turmeric. It's also a great grilled cheese, pimiento cheese sandwich, or hamburger pickle. Each summer we make a couple of batches, some with real sugar for me, and some with that sugar substitute stuff that comes in the yellow bag for our resident diabetic, Dick. Both are tasty, but the fake sugar ones have that tell-tale fake sugar aftertaste that always trips me up. Today, I made eight pints of the real sugar ones that are making that satisfying "pop" that means SUCCESS! at this very moment.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Makes 8 pints:
4 quarts sliced medium cucumbers, not pared
6 medium yellow or white onions, sliced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, halved or quartered depending on their size
1/3 cup kosher salt

For the brine:
5 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed

Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers, and garlic in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. Add the salt and cover with ice cubes or crushed ice. Toss to combine the vegetables, salt, and ice thoroughly. Let stand for 3 hours, tossing 2 or 3 times during that time. Drain well and pick out any remaining chunks of ice.
Combine the brine ingredients and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Place the well-drained vegetables in a large pot and pour the brine over. Heat just to boiling then turn off heat. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, making sure the vegetables are completely covered with the brine. Top each jar with a new sterilized lid then tighten the rings down. Leave the jars to cool and seal on the counter for several hours. Any jars that do not seal need to be stored in the refrigerator or placed in a hot water bath for 15 minutes then allowed to cool and seal.

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