Crunchy Bread and Butter Pickles

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crunchy bread and butter picklesI hope you are enjoying summer as much as we have been. It’s been a whirlwind of family visits, little getaways and lots of work in the garden. We really get inundated with cucumbers this time of year, and that always has me thinking about pickles. While there are plenty of ways to preserve the summer flavors of other kinds of vegetables, pickles are really about our only choice when it comes to cucumbers.

Fortunately, we love pickles, and don’t mind having a good stockpile standing by. These Crunchy Bread and Butter Pickles are a favorite of ours, and as a bonus, they are very easy to make. They stay crispy and crunchy for months in the refrigerator, because they aren’t canned. Canning, in effect, cooks the pickles, and for me, cooked cucumbers don’t have the most appealing texture in the world.

I’m not sure you are going to have to worry about how long they will keep though, since they are so good, that they will probably get eaten up in no time at all!

To get started, you are going to need about a pound of nice fresh, smaller size cucumbers. We call them pickling cucumbers here in NY, and if you don’t have a garden of your own, the best place to find them is probably going to be a farm stand or Farmer’s Market. You can use larger cucumbers if that is all you can get your hands on, but I like the little ones the best. They need to be sliced quite thinly – I use a mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife for that. The same thing goes for the onion – cut it in very thin slices.great american spice company pickling spice

You need pickling spice, of course, and I love the pickling spice from Great American Spice Company. It is very fresh and flavorful, with lot of the best spices for pickles – coriander, mustard seed, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaves and a bit of red pepper. Perfect!

It is important to use pickling salt – regular table salt, and even kosher salt will have different sodium levels, and may not work as well. I also like to add a minced garlic clove, because I love the contrast of the sweet with the savory, but you can leave that out if you don’t think it will suit your taste.

The rest could not be easier:
1 lb small cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 medium white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pickling salt
3 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Mixed Whole Pickling Spice
1 clove garlic, minced [optional]

Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a medium bowl.
Sprinkle over the pickling salt.
Add the ice cubes and stir together with a large spoon.
Cover with a large plate or plastic wrap, and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 hours.
While that is going on, you want your brine to be steeping, so using a 3 quart saucepan, [this pan may seem to large, but all of the pickles are going in here eventually] mix together the sugar, vinegar, pickling spice and garlic, if using.
Bring to a simmer, cover and take off the heat – let it sit at room temperature for the remainder of the time you need to soak the cucumbers and onions.
Empty the bowl into a strainer, and rinse lightly to remove excess salt.
Allow the cucumbers to drain – I fold a paper towel, place it on top of the cukes in the strainer and press gently to help them drain more quickly.
Bring the brine back up to a boil, and once it is, add all of the cucumbers and onions, and stir as they heat up for a minute or two – just until they begin to bubble at the edges of the pan.
Remove from heat, place back in the bowl [rinsed of the salt mixture], cover and place in the refrigerator.
They will begin to taste pickl-ey in about 24 hours, and are really good after about 3 days or so.
Keep leftovers refrigerated. Makes about a quart of pickles and the recipe can be multiplied to make more. jar of bread and butter picklesYou will be amazed at how long these will stay fresh, crisp and crunchy in the refrigerator. I think I opened the last jar from last fall in April and they were still perfect. Obviously, if you see anything that seems to look or smell sketchy, you should not eat them, but I have never had a jar of them go bad.

They are perfect mixed in tuna salad, on burgers, stuffed into a toasted cheese sandwich or just to go along with a meal.bread and butter picklesPretty darned good just straight out of the jar too!


Donalyn is a long time food blogger - this is what she has to say about blogging for us: "My husband and I are blissful empty-nesters, enjoying the good life in rural Upstate NY. We grow a huge garden and are always looking for new challenges, the latest of which is brewing beer from our own home grown hops. My take on food is to use the freshest, most local food you can find and give it plenty of flavor. That is where The Great American Spice Company comes in. I've used their products for years, and I'm thrilled to be sharing some of our favorite recipes on their blog."
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