Old-fashioned Cooking: Bread and Butter Pickles


In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. Just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.

Strictly speaking, this is not cooking, but preserving. It’s one of the easiest pickle recipes I’ve ever run across, however, and very good. Great Aunt Lucille was my mother’s great aunt, so this recipe is at least 120 years old, as my mother was born in 1917. This is the sort of recipe most women kept in their heads, as it was quick and easy. When cucumbers were available in abundance, the housewife would set the kids to picking while she mixed up the salted water. Early next morning, while the house was still cool, she would whip out a batch of these pickles, to be served in a cut-glass footed dish for Sunday dinner.

Good old-fashioned pickling cucumbers are the best choice for these pickles – something like Boston Pickling, for example. These are the short, stocky cukes with lots of little knobs, rather than the long smooth slicing cukes. If you are unfamiliar with canning principles, find a good book or look up the basics online — this is a very brief recipe from days when almost every woman knew the basics of canning and preserving.

The photo above came from this site:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bread_and_butter_pickles/.

Great Aunt Lucille’s Bread and Butter Pickles

8 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (you can slice length-wise or in rounds)

2 cups thinly sliced small white onions

1 quart water with 2 Tbs salt

2 cups vinegar

2 tsp celery seed

3 cups granulated sugar

½ tsp turmeric

4 3-inch cinnamon sticks

Let cukes stand overnight in salted water. Bring remaining ingredients to boil, add drained cukes and onions, simmer about 15 minutes, place in sterilized jars and seal. You can also cut this recipe down to two cups sliced cucumbers and equivalent amounts of the remaining ingredients to make fresh bread and butter pickles that you store in the fridge for a few weeks. If you chose the latter method, you do not need to sterilize or seal the jars, just make sure they are clean.

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3 Responses to Old-fashioned Cooking: Bread and Butter Pickles

  1. Elise says:

    Hi there!
    I’ve noticed that you are using a photo of mine of bread and butter pickles. Would you please provide attribution next to the photo in the form of a working link to the source on my site? It’s http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bread_and_butter_pickles/. Thank you so much for your consideration.

  2. Ashish
    Twitter: QxJnBbuWuTKhcrsL

    Little bubbles are fine, I have them in much of the stuff I can. You don’t have to worry too much about acdiic foods like pickles & tomatoes & fruits. The USDA standards for canning (the ones in the Ball Book) are super safe. There are some old recipes I follow and I process things for less time than recommended, the USDA standards are often overkill, they do that because they want to make it foodproof.If one of your jars doesn’t seal properly you’ll know it, usually the top will get moldy, then you simply throw out the contents. I think the scariness of home canning is partly a myth emphasized by food makers so you won’t can your own stuff. So, keep canning and you’ll get more and more bold with each batch of stuff.

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