Monday, August 15, 2011

Can-It-Forward Day Part 2: Bread and Butter Pickles

Update: I'm submitting this post/recipe to Can You Can It? on Garden of Eating

What do you do when you have a pound and a half of cucumbers and only two days in which to eat them? Make pickles. If it's Can-It-Forward Day, so much the better.

Bread and butter pickles are the only type of pickle I thought I liked before discovering that pickles I make are actually delicious, even if I don't like the ones from the deli. I'm just not a fan of super-sour pickles. Generally though, bread and butter pickles are so sweet that they taste more like candy than like a pickle. This version is not quite so sweet.

My grandmother used to make bread and butter pickles every summer. She would make them with tiny gherkins rather than with slices of Kirby cucumbers. I would eat nearly an entire bowl of them at family parties. Or I would think about it, until I realized that there were deviled eggs and that oh-so-wrong but oh-so-fantastic strawberry Jell-o and Cool Whip dessert with a crunched up pretzel crust (and, yes, I'm still hoping we find the recipe in my grandma's stuff even though I eat neither Jell-o nor Cool Whip).

One little note: this recipe called for brown rice vinegar. I couldn't find any that was diluted to 5% acidity (always use vinegar diluted to 5% acidity or higher for making pickles), so I substituted white wine vinegar. It has a similarly mild flavor.

This recipe is approximately 1/3 of the original, adapted for those of us who can in smaller batches. You see three jars here because I made a little extra so my canning buddy Emily could have a jar as well. And I had that one extra cucumber. This recipe makes more brine than you'll probably need. I have a tendency to under-pack my jars a bit, so I always make extra brine (which worked out nicely for Em).

One thing to remember about bread and butter pickles is that because of the ground spices in the brine, the brine may look cloudy. While in most pickles this is a concern, unless these smell "off" when you open the jar, it's just the ground spices permeating the brine.

And if even after all my urging to try home canning and Can-It-Forward Day you're still not keen on the idea of water-bath canning, but like bread and butter pickles, check out this recipe for bread and butter refrigerator pickles.

Not-So-Sweet Bread and Butters
Adapted from Tart and Sweet

2/3 c apple cider vinegar
2/3 c white wine vinegar
1 c water
1 c sugar
2 T plus 1 t kosher or pickling salt

1 lb cucumbers, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4" rounds
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

Spices per pint jar:
1 small clove garlic
1/2 T plus 1 t yellow mustard seeds
1 t chili flakes
1/4 t turmeric
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t celery seed

Prep two pint jars and lids, as well as other canning equipment.

Bring the brine ingredients to a boil in a nonreactive pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.

Place the garlic and spices in each hot jar. Pack each jar with cucumbers and onions. Make sure to pack the jars tightly, but without crushing the veggies. Pour the boiling brine into the jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace. Make sure all of the veggies are submerged in the brine.

Check for air bubbles by running a small rubber spatula around the edges of the jar. Adjust the amount of brine as necessary to keep 1/2" headspace. Wipe the rims, put on the lids and screw bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 7 minutes, adjusting for elevation.

Makes 2 pint jars

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