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Bread and butter pickles

Posted by Sheryl Julian  July 19, 2010 05:56 PM

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Twice every summer, my mother bought a bushel of cukes and made bread and butter pickles. They're very crisp, not too sweet, full of onions, and lightly flavored with turmeric and mustard. She got the recipe from my aunt, who also made them in quantity. (Read more about pickles here.)

Neither of the women used the water bath method to seal the jars because they thought the pickles weren't as crisp. So the jars went into an old fridge in the basement and had to be eaten by late fall. That meant we had them with broiled chicken and chicken salad, meat loaf, beef stew, weekend sandwiches. We brought them to picnics with cousins. If we were lucky, we spooned the last of the pickles -- not that crisp by November -- beside the Thanksgiving bird. Then they were gone. Don't make as many and eat them faster.

Bread and butter pickles

Makes 4 quarts

You need a stockpot to simmer the vegetables, 4 quart-sized jars and lids, and a funnel to fill them. Sterilize the jars, lids, funnel, and ladle with boiling water. Any hand-held slicing machine works well. If you slice by hand, you'll be there all day.

3 cups distilled white vinegar

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

18 pickling cukes or Armenian cukes or 9 unwaxed slicing cucumbers, unpeeled, scrubbed, and thinly sliced

3 red bell peppers or 1 each red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

1. In a stockpot, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, and turmeric. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves.

2. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture just begins to bubble at the edges. Do not let it boil.

3. Add the cucumbers, peppers, and onions. Turn them in the vinegar mixture. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the mixture is very hot but does not boil. You should see a bubble or two at the edges. They will lose their crispness if they overcook.

4. Ladle the mixture into jars. With a clean paper towel, wipe the rims of each jar. Add the lids and set the jars on a heatproof surface. Leave to cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 months. Sheryl Julian

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

The Recipe Box Project:

If you want to contribute a recipe to The Recipe Box Project, please write it below. Also tell us where you got it (package box, cookbook, mom, friend -- include the name). We're looking for the kinds of dishes that people grew up on, that were served at family suppers, that tell a story, that are typically New England, or that you brought with you from a far away place to New England. We will print one of the recipes in the Food section once a month. To ask any questions, write to Debra Samuels, who is overseeing this project, at To discuss your recipes, click here.