For years I’ve tried making pickles- everything from bread and butter refrigerator pickles to classic dills… and for years I’ve never found a recipe I have fallen in love with, until now. I didn’t realize how much my general lack of pickling skills was weighing on me- I mean, a homesteader should be able to make a great pickle, shouldn’t they?! Well, I feel like I finally earned my pickle badge!
These are “refrigerator pickles,” which means two main things: 1. they are ridiculously easy, and 2. this recipe is not suitable for canning. You’ll slice up your cucumbers, combine them with a couple other friends, pour a simple warm brine over them, then stash them in the fridge for up to a few months… couldn’t be simpler!
If you have more cucumbers than you can eat, but not quite enough to warrant canning them, this is the perfect solution. Or if you don’t have the time to dedicate to canning. This is the story of my life right now. The fridge is slowly being taken over by half-gallon jars of pickles!
Bread and Butter Refrigerator Pickles
What’s a bread and butter pickle? Basically a pickle that is both sweet and sour. And rumor (well, Wikipedia) has it that they were invented by a couple of cucumber farmers in the 1920s who survived the ups and downs of cucumber farming by bartering their pickles to the local grocer for staples like bread and butter. I love this story!
These are the BEST bread and butter pickles I’ve ever had, because they are the perfect balance of everything: sweet, salt, acid, and flavor. I find a lot of pickle recipes to be either too acidic or too salty- well not these!
A Few Tips…
Since these aren’t cooked, you’ll want to cut the cucumbers into slices so the brine can penetrate the whole thing easily. Using whole cucumbers or even spears won’t result in the best product. Plus, slices are traditional for bread and butter pickles.
While you can eat these at any point after making them, they are best after sitting for a week or two. They should store for several months in the fridge.
Use a mandolin for slicing the cucumbers into nice, even slices. You can cut them into whatever thickness you’d like- super thin to chunkier, whatever your prefer. I like them somewhere in the middle.
Pickle your cucumbers as soon as possible after picking for the crispest, best pickles. Store the cukes in an air-tight container in the fridge if you can’t get to making them right away. I don’t like to use cucumbers that are more than about three days old for making pickles, if I can help it. Ideally I pickle them the day I pick them.
Only use good quality cucumbers- if they are wrinkled, really soft, bruised, or blemished they will NOT get better with pickling. You can use a little bit larger cukes for this, but don’t use the really big ones… you know, the ones that got away.
Bread and Butter Refrigerator Pickles Recipe
Makes 1 Half Gallon or 2 Quarts
Enough cucumbers to fill 1 half gallon jar or 2 quart jars… a few pounds
1/4 of an onion, sliced thinly
1-2 jalapeños, sliced (optional, if you like them spicy)
2 cups water
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp pickling salt
1 Tbs pickling spice
Important first step: remove 1/8-inch of the blossom end of each cucumber. This is the end opposite of the stem that attached the cucumber to the plant. This part contains enzymes that can make your pickles soft. And no one likes a soft pickle.
Cut cucumbers into even-sized slices (I love a mandolin for this!) and pack into jars, with a layer or two of thinly sliced onions (and optional jalapeño slices) somewhere in there too. Fill ‘er up to the top!
In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegars, sugar, salt, and pickling spice- bring to just a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure all the salt and sugar dissolves. Pour the hot brine into the jar over the cucumbers and voila = pickles!
Really, that’s it… let them cool on the counter for an hour and then put a lid on and transfer to the fridge. Make sure that the liquid is completely covering the cucumbers. If after an hour its not, mix together 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar- just enough to top them off (no need to heat this).
Vinegar will make your metal jar lids and bands rust, which is why I like these plastic screw covers for things like this.
It is best to wait a week before digging into your bread and butter refrigerator pickles, and they will last a couple months in the fridge.
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