How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles

How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles

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I have been yacking all summer about how busy I have been. I have actually been swamped if you want to know the truth. It really has been the busiest summer I can remember. I know I certainly did not have enough time to sit back, relax and enjoy some of these! I can’t say that I am looking forward to cold weather, but I think things will quiet down for me in the Fall, so I will be thankful for that.

As you may know, much of the busy time has been from helping to plan and coordinate Food Blog Forum Atlanta (it starts this Friday! Yay!). We have also been doing some travel for On the Road with Bunkycooks articles. The other very time consuming project has been canning.

Kirby Cukes make the best pickles!

You may have seen my posts on Strawberry Freezer Jam and How to Make Freezer Jams. Those are pretty simple to do, but do take a bit of time, although preserving foods by freezing is definitely the easiest method. They are sooo worth making! If you haven’t tried to do it yet, you definitely should.

The other way of preserving foods is not quite so easy. I will have a few posts on canning in the coming weeks. Let me just say, that me and the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and Canning have gotten to know each other quite well in the past couple of months. Roger and I have been canning maniacs.

I have learned a great deal about canning that I never knew before. I also think that canning is making a comeback as more and more people are concerned about where their food comes from and how it makes the trip from the farm to their dinner table. I know I am.

Kirby Cukes and Onions are Chillin’

I have certainly gained a new appreciation for my food after visiting the farms that we have been to this summer. I really have become fussier than usual about what I eat and where it comes from. I am trying to stash as much wonderful local produce away as I can so that I can rely on many of our own canned goods in the coming months. Realistically, I know that I will have to purchase some items that are not local, but I am certainly going to be more thoughtful about it.

If you have never canned, let me suggest a few things to you. 1. Two sets of hands are better than one. 2. An assembly line works well if you are organized. 3. Do not start this process if you are in a bad mood, on edge or already fussing with your hubby or partner. It will only get worse.

You have to drain the cukes and onions…

When you first begin, it is a bit stressful when you are trying to keep the jars sterile, the ingredients at the right temperature, the lids sterile and the water boiling all at the same time, especially in a small space. In fact, as a friend said to me, it can look a bit like this…remember I Love Lucy and the Chocolate Factory?! I promise it will get easier the more you do it (and I have now canned enough to vouch for that).

However, I know that the fruits of our labors will be well worth it come the fall and winter when I can head down to the basement and grab a jar of my own bread and butter pickles.

I thought I would share this recipe with you first. It is from the Ball Blue Book and it is one of the easiest preserved foods to make, especially if you are a beginner. This is a fresh pack version of Bread and Butter Pickles and takes much less time than the regular version. Since canning is really a bit of a science and needs to all work together to be successful, I don’t stray much from the tried and true recipes.

Then you need to rinse them to remove the canning salt…

Bread and Butter Pickles are prepared in a boiling water canner, which I find to be the easier method. Anything with a high acidic level (such as pickles, tomatoes) can be prepared in the boiling water canner. Anything that is not acidic (like green beans) needs to be prepared in a pressure cooker canner. You will also need these nifty little gadgets to help you with canning no matter which method you are using.

Initially, the pressure canner is a little frightening to use (think blowing up your kitchen). Of course, pressure cookers have always made me nervous. My mom used them all the time when I was a kid. We have one now that we cook certain foods in. I let Roger deal with it along with the pressure canner.

Fill the jars with your pickles.

It is also necessary, as I have found, to make adjustments for cooking in higher altitudes. You will need to increase the cooking times for the boiling water canner or increase the amount of pressure on the gauge of the pressure cooker canner. Since much of my canning took place in the mountains this Summer, I had to make these adjustments. The Ball Blue Book will tell you all about it. You can also refer to the Ball website for more information on preserving foods.

Since this whole canning business is very precise, I thought that I would give away this essential canning book to two of my readers! I thought that you might want to get in on the fun while there are still some goodies left to can (and of course, there are all sorts of Fall and Winter goodies to can, too!). I bought these (this is not sponsored by Ball) and will ship them to whoever wins in either the United States or Canada. THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.

Pickles in the canner.


Julie – I would love to try to can tomato sauce and salsa. I have never canned before! And I can’t wait to meet you this weekend…can’t believe it’s almost here! @thelittlekitchn

Val – I just made my first batch of jam (peach-rosemary) last week and i am now addicted! I didn’t “can” the jam because i don’t have the equipment or the know how, but i would love get started with this kit.

Bread and Butter Pickles

From the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving
Makes about 7 pints


4 pounds 4- to 6-inch cucumbers (Kirby cucumbers), cut into 1/4″ slices
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced (about 8 small)
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cups white vinegar


Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Make adjustments for altitude, if necessary.

* These fresh pack pickles need to sit for at least 4 to 6 weeks to cure and develop a true bread and butter pickle flavor.

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