Bread and Butter (Old Fashioned Sliced) Pickles
Recipes for these vary from one section of the United States to another, but commercial producers have made this easy-to-prepare version so popular that many homemakers use the same formula. Those with an abundance of very small zucchini in their gardens can substitute this vegetable for the cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers are best for this, but the usual table cucumbers can be used if they are quite firm. The long ribbed cucumbers variously called Armenian, Belgian, Syrian, and, so on, are also good.
8 to 10 pints
Total Timea day or more
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Taste and Texturesavory, spiced, sweet, tangy
Type of Dishvegetable
- 6 quarts cucumbers 3 to 4 inches long, measured after slicing about ¼ inch thick
- 6 medium-size onions, sliced
- 1 cup salt
- 6 cups vinegar
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Wash the cucumbers well, remove the blossom and stem ends, and slice on a cutting board with a chef’s knife, or preferably with a “kraut” or slicing board. Place with the sliced onions in a large bowl or roasting pan, sprinkle with the salt, and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand 3 to 6 hours. Drain well, and rinse well under cold water. Taste for salt. If excessively salty, rinse some more, or cover with cold water, let stand a few minutes, then drain. Prepare 9 or 10 sterilized pint jars. (To sterilize, place on an oven rack 1 inch apart, turn the oven to 250 degrees, and let the jars remain 20 to 25 minutes. Or place upside down in about 4 inches of boiling water and let boil gently 6 to 8 minutes.) Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a large kettle, about 8-quart capacity. Add the cucumbers and onions and bring just to the simmering point. Do not let the mixture boil, or it will make the finished pickles limp. Immediately fill the hot sterilized jars to within ¼ inch of the top. Wipe the sealing edges with a clean, damp cloth, dip the metal disk lids in boiling water and place on top. Seal with the screw bands. Allow to cool overnight, remove the bands, test the seal, wash jars and store.
Zucchini Sliced Pickles:
Use small zucchini, not more than 6 to 7 inches long and very firm. Slice and proceed as above. For firmer slices, combine 1 teaspoon powdered alum (available at drugstores) with the salt before mixing it in.
1972 James A. Beard