Homemade bread and butter pickles are quite easy to make, and personally, I like this version a bit more than the store-bought kind. Make a small or large batch, just make sure you always have a jar handy in the fridge, ‘cause you will go through it fast!
Homemade pickles became a thing for me a few years ago; I enjoyed the creativity that went into a bespoke blend of spices and vinegar that would lend so much flavor with a perfect crispy bite. I’m happy to share this recipe with you and hope you find yourself never without a jar of this goodness!
What are bread and butter pickles?
Bread and butter pickles are pickled cucumbers that have been pickled in a vinegar solution; vinegar, spices, and sugar. Their flavor is a balance of sweet and tangy compared to other pickle varieties, and can be found in the shapes of pickle slices or spears.
Why are they called bread and butter pickles?
The name dates back to the 1920s, when Cora and Omar Fanning trademarked a family recipe, then known as “sweet and sour pickles”. It is presumed that the Fannings fell on hard times–The Great Depression–and decided to turn their pickles into a means to weather them through the tough season.
The pickles were beloved by many, so much so that the Fannings were able to use the pickles as a form of bartering for other much needed household eats, like bread and butter.
The beloved pickles soon became known as brand and butter pickles, and the cucs’ popularity soon blossomed beyond the Midwest and through the South. Bread and butter pickles became a prized condiment to cheaper cuts of meat, making the meat much more palatable.
Fast forward to modern day and bread and butter pickles are still enjoyed by many.
Is there really a specific salt to use when pickling? Yes, there is–let’s dive into it a bit deeper.
There is such a thing as pickling salt that is recommended to use, but, it can be difficult to find and honestly, kosher salt (specifically Diamond brand) is a fine substitute.
Table salt is not recommended for using, as it contains additives that can alter the color of (in this case) pickles and caking agents found in table salt can cause a cloudy or opaque pickling liquid.
What gives pickles that yellowish, chartruese color?
Tumeric! Adding tumeric imparts a beautiful chartreuse color to the pickling liquid. The more you add, the deeper the yellow, greenish hue.
How to make Bread and Butter pickles
- Rinse and slice cucumber into ¼ inch coins. Thinly slice onion and place in mixing bowl;
- Add kosher salt, mix well and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. This step is important as the salt will draw moisture from the cucumbers, yielding a crisp pickle;
- Rinse cucumbers and onions well, removing salt;
- In a medium saucepan, add vinegar, dill and spices, and bring to a boil;
- Place cucumber and onion in a sterilized jar and fill with vinegar mixture;
- Cover and once jar comes to room temperature, place in refrigerator;
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Ideal if you allow 24 hours before consuming as this gives the pickling liquid time to impart flavor to the pickles.
Ingredients to make Bread and Butter Pickles
There are a number of different herbs (tarragon), spices (cumin), and vegetables (bell peppers!) that can be added to the brine. This recipe includes:
- Hothouse Cucumber
- White Onion
- Kosher Salt
- Distilled Vinegar
- Mustard Seed
- Celery Seed
- Chili Flake
- Black Peppercorn
For this recipe, I do not sterilize the jars, as I typically keep it refrigerated and finish through the jar within 1 week. Instead, I wash the jar with HOT water and soap.
This recipe yields a rather small amount of bread and butter pickles. If you were making 4x or 5x times the amount, or storing in a cupboard. I would suggest sterilizing your jars.
If you’d rather, you can sterilize your jars by placing them on a baking sheet and into the oven at 200°F for 10 minutes.
What to eat with Bread and Butter Pickles
Bread and butter pickles can be eaten like any other pickle. A few great pairings include:
- Sandwiches (my personal fav!)
- Grain Bowls
- BBQ fare
Bread and Butter Pickles
- ¼ white onion, thinly sliced
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1¾ cups distilled vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flake
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorn
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 sprig dill
- 1½ tablespoons water
- Rinse and slice cucumber into ¼ inch coins and thinly slice onion. Place in a mixing bowl.
- Add kosher salt, mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. After each hour, mix well, cover and place back in the refrigerator. This step is important as the salt will draw moisture from the cucumbers, yielding a crisp pickle.
- Rinse cucumbers and onions very well, removing salt.
- In a medium saucepan add vinegar, dill, garlic, spices, and water and bring to a boil. Lower to medium heat and cook for 3 minutes.
- Place cucumber and onion in a sterilized jar. Layer cucumber and onion evenly so that you can pack the jar. Fill with hot brine.
- Cover and once the jar comes to room temperature, place in refrigerator.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Ideal if you allow 24 hours before consuming, this gives the pickling liquid time to impart flavor to the pickles.