Bread & Butter Pickles

September 14th, 2012 / Comments 1

tomato sandwich sm Bread & Butter Pickles

Tomato Sandwiches by Don & Charles

When I was at Fable Farm picking up our CSA share, I got a basket full of cherry tomatoes that Charles and our friend Don used to make a plate full of amazing tomato sandwiches with just a smear of mayo and an artful sprinkling of fresh dill. The pile of zucchini there reminded me of the first time I made pickles with my cousin Sis and her mother, Aunt Ann, who we called Antenna. It was a hot, sticky day in late August and they invited me to the cool cellar to help.

There were baskets of pickling cucumbers, bunches of fresh dill, dill seeds, garlic, jugs of vinegar, boxes of mason jars, rubber rings and lids, enough supplies for a small factory. The cellar was primitive, with two large laundry sinks and two gas burners that were used exclusively for pickling or canning.

I was the cucumber-sorter, a perfect job for a hot day. I stood on an up-turned box, up to my elbows in cold water. Cucumbers floated in cold water in the deep sinks. After making sure each cucumber was clean and didn’t have any soft spots, I transferred it from the left sink to the right sink. The day was hot but within ten minutes I was wet from the waist up, delighted to be as cool as the cucumbers.

The empty jars jingled as they boiled in the enormous black pot. After Antenna pulled a jar from the pot with tongs, Sis’ job was to drop a garlic clove and a sprig of dill into each jar. All the while, Antenna referred to her mother’s notebook that was filled with small, scratchy hand written notes that I was unable to read. I realize now, it wasn’t the handwriting I couldn’t read – it was the Slavic. Bubba, Antenna’s mother and my grandmother, didn’t speak a word of English.

Antenna filled the jars with cucumbers and boiling pickling liquid after Sis and I did our important work. By lunchtime, the cellar was filled with steam and the floor was dangerously slippery with water splashed from the sinks. At the end of the day we proudly counted dozens of jars of pickles that would last our family until baskets of cucumbers reappeared at the market stand the following summer.

That early food memory inspired me to make pickles that will flood my kitchen with the golden glow of the summer sun in the flat gray days of winter.

My methods are different; I work alone in my kitchen, content to make small batches. And rather than buying pickling cucumbers by the bushel, I make pickles with squash. Any variety of summer squash or cucumber will work for this recipe. Here’s how:

Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 2 pounds squash, patty pan, zucchini, or summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

I put the squash and onions in large bowl, covered them with cold water, stirred in the salt and left them to soak for two hours before draining and rinsing the brine from the squash. This short brining extracts water from the squash and helps it absorb the flavors of the pickling liquid.

For the pickling liquid, I mixed together three cups of vinegar, three-quarters of a cup of sugar, two teaspoons each of celery seeds, mustard seeds and mixed pickling spices and one teaspoon of ground turmeric. I boiled the pickling liquid for two minutes, added the squash and onions and set the mixture aside for two hours. Then I simmered the mixture for five minutes, before I packed the pickles in hot jars that I seal by processing in boiling water for five minutes.

Quantities are flexible and this recipe can be adjusted to suit your harvest. I used white vinegar but cider vinegar can be used instead. Sugar can be increased or decreased and spices can be varied to suit your taste. If the pickles are going to be eaten within a week or two, I store them in the fridge and don’t bother vacuum sealing the jars in boiling water. Pickles will be ready to eat in two days and will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. For complete instructions on canning, consult The Joy of Cooking or Google “Home Canning.”

Bread & Butter Pickles
Print
Recipe type: Side Dish
Author: Carol Egbert
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 2 pints
Sweet and tart pickles made with cucumbers or any summer squash.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds squash, patty pan, zucchini, or summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Instructions
  1. Put squash and onions in large bowl, cover with cold water, stir in salt and set aside for two hours before draining and rinsing.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, mustard seeds and mixed pickling spices and ground turmeric. Boil for two minutes before adding squash and onions, set mixture aside for two hours before I simmering the mixture for five minutes.
  3. Packed pickles in hot jars and seal by processing in boiling water for five minutes.
Notes

Quantities are flexible and this recipe can be adjusted to suit your harvest. I used white vinegar but cider vinegar can be used instead. Sugar can be increased or decreased and spices can be varied to suit your taste.

If the pickles will be eaten within a week or two, store them in the fridge and don’t bother vacuum sealing the jars. Pickles will be ready to eat in two days and will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. For complete instructions on canning, consult The Joy of Cooking or Google “Home Canning.”

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