Bread & Butter Pickles

This bread and butter pickle recipe comes from one of my all time favorite people, Kevin West. I met Kevin while I was working at Lindy & Grundy’s Meats. Kevin was a customer, who also happened to be looking for some part-time preserving assistance. At that time, he was in the middle of writing his book, Saving The Season, and he also had a small jam company of the same name. Since I love preserving and have found true experts to be rare, I jumped at the chance to work with him. Even though my step-mom was quite ill and I was more than full-time at L&G, for a short period of time I found my way across town on Fridays to meet Kevin and make jam.

Kevin is one of those people who always looks carelessly put together. After their first meeting, Ryan told me that he wished he dressed like Kevin. This made me laugh because, if I remember correctly, Kevin is often dressed in khaki shorts and a simple collared shirt or t-shirt. Nothing fancy. He just has that look about him, like he just came away from an early morning sail on his day cruiser. 

I never got to make these pickles with Kevin because I left his jam kitchen much too soon, overwhelmed with the work at Lindy & Grundy’s and my step-mom’s worsening health. However, ever since his book came out, I’ve renounced all other preserving tomes. Kevin’s preserves were always superior to any that I’ve had past or present, and his book is just the same, user-friendly, detailed, educational, and beautiful.

Now is the time to make your summer pickles if you haven’t already done so. Time is running out! If you’re a certain type of person, you might have laughed when you read that. You might have thought, “seriously, who makes their own pickles!?” I hear you. But, why not?

You guys, it’s not a math problem; there's not all that much to figure out. If you think about it, the idea that pickles must come from a jar is a relatively new one. Many generations before us did it for themselves. In fact, pickling is perfect for those with almost no kitchen skill, especially if you opt not to can your pickles, but to store them in the fridge. All you do is slice, salt, and cover with vinegar. 

Bread & Butter Pickles

Makes 4 pint jars or 2 quart jars + a little extra

From: Saving The Season, by Kevin West

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds Kirby pickling cucumbers
  • 1 pound small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 small fresh or dried red chilies, diced

Instructions:

  1. Scrub the cucumbers well, and trim away the stem and blossom ends. Cut into 3/8" slices, and toss with the onions in a large bowl. Cover with a brine of 1/2 cup kosher salt dissolved into 1 gallon of cool water. (Don't worry if some of the salt doesn't dissolve immediately.) Crack two trays of ice over the top, and set aside for 2 hours. Stir from time to time, turning over the layers. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside. 
  3. Drain the vegetables, and rinse them with fresh water. Bring the vinegar syrup back to a boil, add the vegetables, and cook for 5 minutes. 
  4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the vegetables among four prepared pint jars, then ladle the syrup into the jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Seal, and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can put the pickles and syrup in 2 clean quart jars, or any container you have around, and allow to cool. Then refrigerate for at least a week before eating. The pickles stay in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.