Some 10 or so years ago, I watched Emeril as he prepared dill pickles. I was surprised to see that they weren’t canned but were stored in the refrigerator. I never did make them and that recipe, like so many others, was lost during one of my PC
crashes upgrades. Then, a couple of years ago, during yet another long and sleepless night, I decided to surf the web looking for Emeril’s recipe. I never did find it but I did come across a number of recipes for bread & butter pickles. Now, I love bread & butter pickles and the fact that I could make them without canning was heaven-sent — and they’re delicious, to boot! As good as these pickles are, however, remember that since they’re not canned, they must be refrigerated and will not keep for longer than a few weeks. That’s the downside. The upside is that there’s no canning equipment to buy and store when not in use, not to mention this method is far less complicated than the canning process. So, I vote for refrigerator pickles but, if you can can, head to Paris and the Follies Berge- … er … um … but, if you can can, then start canning. Barbecue season will be gone before you know it.
Whenever possible, I use pickling cucumbers to make my pickles because they’ve fewer seeds. My second choice would be English cucumbers, another variety that’s also lower in seeds and that’s usually sold covered in plastic wrap. When all else fails and burgers are on the menu, I’ll use “baby cukes” but, because these babies are smaller in diameter, I’ll slice them on an angle to increase their relative size. As for the yield, the last time I visited Zia, I used 2 pounds of baby cukes and made 3 pints of pickles (pictured below). Most of the recipes use, in varying amounts, the ingredients I’ve listed, although I’ve seen some that add dill seed, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, cinnamon sticks, and the list goes on. Make a half-batch using my recipe, have a taste, and make adjustments in the next batch, if need be. The recipe is neither expensive nor time-consuming and is, in fact, pretty straight-forward. You’ll be amazed at just how easy these are to make and, if you’re at all like me, you’ll never go pickle-less again.
Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles Recipe
- 2 lb. pickling cucumbers, sliced no less than 1/8 inch thick
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- Place cucumbers, onion, and salt in a large strainer/colander and mix well. Place strainer in the sink where excess water will drain for one hour.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large sauce pan, over med-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add cucumbers and onion to the pan, place a dish on top of the mixture to keep the contents submerged, cover the pan, and simmer for about 5 – 7 minutes.
- Place the mixture in sterile jars and allow to cool a bit before covering and placing in the refrigerator. Best when served fully chilled. Pickles will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
I’ve come across similar recipes for dill pickles but I don’t find them nearly as good as this one for bread & butter pickles. If and when I find one — or some reader sends me one — I’ll share it with you. Similarly, I’m on the look-out for a good pickling liquid for other vegetables. When found, that will be shared, as well. Lastly, I’ll be posting a great recipe for Chicago-style giardiniera in the weeks to come.
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Since writing this post, I’ve started canning/preserving — something I thought I’d never do. (Please keep thoughts of old dogs to yourself.) As mentioned, these pickles will last, as-is, for several weeks in the fridge. If canned, they will last up to a year on a cool, dark shelf. To can them, follow the above instructions. Once the jars have been filled with lids and tops in place, though not sealed tightly, place them in a boiling water bath deep enough to cover the jars by at least an inch. Leave them to process for 10 minutes before removing them to a cloth-covered surface, where they should remain undisturbed for 24 hours. At the end of that time, test to make sure each has sealed and store in a cool, dark place. Those that haven’t sealed properly must be immediately refrigerated and used with the next few weeks.
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