I made pickles yesterday. It was hot, humid and sticky — not the best day to be fooling around with steaming, syrupy juice and hot-to-the-touch sterilized jars. But, the cucumbers were ganging up on me and something had to be done.
I love bread and butter pickles and hadn’t made them in years, so the time seemed right — and it was my day off. Unfortunately, we can’t pick the perfect weather days to take off.
I had to adjust the recipe a little, because the cukes were a little larger than they should have been. If you have narrow, 6- to 7-inch cukes, then use 25; but, mine were about 8 to 9 inches and fatter, so I used 13.
And, today’s onions are softball-sized, so I only used 3.
But, it’s not an exact science, so don’t worry about it. I sometimes only make half the recipe, too.
Bread & Butter Pickles
Makes 9 pints
25 small, firm cucumbers*
8 medium onions (or 3 large), thinly sliced
1/2 cup salt (I use kosher salt)
5 cups cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons celery seeds
1 tablespoon whole cloves
Cut off the ends of the cukes and slice them 1/8-inch thick. In a large container or pot, layer the cucumber and onion slices alternately. Sprinkle each layer with some of the salt and cover with ice cubes. Let stand for 3 hours.
Drain thoroughly in a colander. (I do this a little at a time as the pickling liquid is boiling.)
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a kettle and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 10 minutes. Add the drained cucumbers and onions (be careful not to splash, that stuff is hot!). Return the mixture to a boil; remove pan from the heat.
Ladle the slices into hot, sterilized canning jars.** Add enough liquid to fill to the top. With a wet paper towel, wipe the rims and edges. Cover with lids and rings and tighten. Store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate a jar once it’s open.
Note: Some like their pickles spicier. In that case, add some red pepper flakes to the boiling liquid.
* Be sure your cucumbers are firm, with no sign of mold or decay.
** Now that I have a dishwasher, it’s a cinch to run the canning jars through a cycle just before I need them, so they come out piping hot. Otherwise, boil them in a kettle. And, only use canning jars.
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