I wasn’t raised in the grand tradition of putting up food. Maybe my mom will tell me that she used to can food from the garden all the time, but if so, I’ve blocked it out!! (I’ve just realized that this is a total lie. My dad’s mother was a big canner. There were always jars of relish and chutney in his pantry. Unfortunately I completely wasted that resource, and I never asked her to show me her secrets.) My first experience, as a grown-up, with homemade pickles was at a dinner with Greg’s parents. You should remember Greg as the reason for our gluttonous trip to Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago! When we lived in SLC, Greg’s parents were pretty much surrogate grandparents to our kids. They invited us to their neighborhood for trick-or-treating, and they would set up Easter egg hunts in their back yard. They even had me over to dinner when Doug was out of town. I always knew we had an open invitation for any holiday meal as long as they were in town. Plus, Greg’s mom, Joen, was always lending me books. Greg’s family is one of the things I loved best about living in Utah. At one Thanksgiving dinner Joen had a relish tray set out with her homemade Bread and Butter pickles. Everyone at the table was pretty much in heaven. Joen told me that she would teach me how to make the pickles when the season came. Some people might have forgotten, but not Joen!
The next Summer we spent an evening at Joen’s house with Greg, and we all manned a station and put up some pickles. I wish I had pictures from that night. We had two little kids playing with the building blocks that she always brought out for us(that’s how you know she’s a grandma!). Some of us were slicing, while others were watching the pots. It’s the kind of night that you could never forget.
What I could forget though, is the exact recipe! I’m going by memory here, and I know I’m missing a could of things, but when I made these Doug said the flavor was right. Here are the three things I specifically remember:
- Slice the pickles lengthwise, but not all the way through. This way each pickle makes a fan.
- Add a whole dried red pepper. I don’t know if this is just for decoration, or if it adds some heat, but I don’t really question Joen!
- Joen told us that the pickles are good for two years (good luck in getting them to last that long!), but they aren’t ready until Thanksgiving.
I made these a couple of weeks ago, and I planned on opening one jar to test the flavor, and leaving the rest until Thanksgiving. After Doug went through the first 4 jars, I had to hide the last one so that I’d have something to take a picture of! I’m making more tonight! It helps if you have a few people when you’re canning, but you could certainly do it alone.
Bread and Butter Pickles
- 10 cups pickling cucumbers sliced lengthwise, but not all the way through
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 dried chile pepper for each jar
- Combine cucumbers, peppers, garlic and onions in a large dish a cover with ice and salt. Let stand for at least 4 hours. Drain.
- In a large pot combine vinegar, sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Mix in vegetables and bring to a boil again.
- Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars.
- Add 1 chile pepper to each jar.
- Put lids on immediately and process. If you don’t want to do a water bath, you can refrigerate the pickles for 6 months.