Friday, June 18, 2010

bread and butter pickles

bread and butter pickles

So here’s one way to be just a little more welcome at that backyard barbecue slash rooftop grill-out slash pot luck picnic you were heading to this weekend. Maybe you were going to bring your usual — that pie, some buns, a slaw, an addictive potato salad, right? Maybe even some lemonade? And oh, what friends you’ll make if you do. Everyone loves a good slaw, most especially this girl.

kirbys
kirby slices

But how about something a little crunchy, a little sweet to accompany that burger recipe your dad has been perfecting since the horse and buggy days. It’s the kind of thing you might only know about from a jar, which means that you probably pass them over at picnics without a second thought. It’s the kind of thing you might not have thought to make at home, I know I didn’t, especially because we’re more of the garlickly-Kosher dill category of pickle eaters, ourselves.

salting

salted

I had a bag of kirby cucumbers I’d picked up at the market this week for my husband who loves to snack on them. And then one day last week I followed a link from The Facebook or The Twitter or wherever you kids are hanging out these days and landed smack dab in the middle of a bread and butter pickle recipe and pretty much dropped everything to co-opt Alex’s supply to make it. Poor guy, though he’s probably used to it by now. ["Don't eat those berries! I'm saving them for pie!"]

icing
pickling mix

And they’re so good! They taste like the kind you can buy but that much better — crunchier and wonderfully spiced. Something about them makes me want to drop everything and crash someone’s barbecue, armed with a jar. You wouldn’t mind, right? Especially if I bring this little derelict with me?

bread and butter pickles

One year ago: Cheese Straws and seriously, I cannot believe it has been a year since I made these. Where did it go? What did I do?!
Two years ago: Pistachio Petit-Four Cake
Three years ago: Strawberry Tart

Bread and Butter Pickles
Adapted from The Dispatch Kitchen, a few other sources and personal taste

Big important note, especially if you are unfamiliar with bread and butter pickles: these babies are sweet! So very sweet! So sweet that I thought that the sugar level was a typo but sure enough, every other recipe I found listed sugar amounts in cups. Ayee. This one only called for one but I reduced my batch to 3/4 of a cup for a bread-and-butter pickle we find on par with the level of sweetness you expect from them. As in, it is probably “correct”. But, I will still reduce it to a 1/2 cup next time, to accommodate my taste preference, as you should adjust it to yours.

I also reduced the turmeric, which seemed like way too much, and added celery seed, because I like it with pickles.

Makes 4 cups of pickles, filling a 1-quart jar

1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Diamond Kosher salt [Updated: Why Diamond? Read this first.]
1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (see note above)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.


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