I love bread-n-butter pickles!
I only planted two hills this year... just two. They've been prolific though... very prolific.
When I got ready for the first batch of pickles I couldn't find the recipe I'd used last year ( and they were GOOD)! And so began the inspiration for this new blog/kitchen diary. I vowed never again to lose another recipe! Thus also began the search for my replacement Bread-n-Butter Pickle Recipe.
First I tossed it out there on FaceBook, "Who thinks they have the best Bread-n-Butter Pickle Recipe?" I didn't get a lot of responses. I think my fav was, "Milwaukee Pickles"! Thanks Amber! Several of my cousins said that my Aunt JoJo had a great Bread-n-Butter Pickle Recipe. Some time passed and my friend Kris messaged me with her family Bread-n-Butter Pickle Recipe "Crispy Lunch Pickles". So I made them. When I tasted them, I thought they were the best Bread-n-Butter Pickles I'd ever tasted!
Time went by and the pickles continued to prosper. I gave some away. I made some garlic dills. I gave some more away... When I again had my counter-tops full of ripe cucumbers I received a letter in the mail with my Aunt JoJo's Bread-n-Butter Pickle Recipe! Woo Hoo!! So I made them. When I tasted them, I thought they were the best Bread-n-Butter Pickles I'd ever tasted!
Things may have ended there but the pickles kept on producing... I made the Garlic Dills again, this time spicier and more garlicky. And I gave some more away... And they kept right on producing... One day as I was pulling out condiments I saw that there were two jars of Bread-n-Butter Pickles. Dane and I were standing around the kitchen island making sammies and that is how the side-by-side taste comparison happened, quite by accident.
Side-by-side tasting proved that they were very different indeed! What a shocker! This made me get the recipes out and compare, and re-taste and analyze. I found I preferred the salt/sweet balance of Kris's pickles over my aunties; and I preferred the spice balance in my aunties pickles over Kris's. Hmmm... As my cucumbers continued to produce I continued to mull over and analyze those two recipes, look over a few more in various cookbooks and determined to come up with my own. So thanks Kris, and thanks Aunt JoJo! You guys gave me the inspiration and the courage to wing it! So I shall procrastinate no longer and give you my results:
Betty's Bread-n-Butter Pickles
(makes about 15 Qts)
12-16 Qts. sliced cucumbers - I arrived at this number by filling my "Big Daddy Pressure Cooker" (you'll hear more about him in another blog!) almost full. Later I backed them out and found they almost filled up my four largest bowls leaving a bit of room for my peppers, onions, and my secret ingredient... lots of fresh sliced ginger!
12 ripe (red) Serrano Peppers - sliced thin leaving the seeds and pith intact... pretty!
8 Large Banana Peppers - sliced in rings. No special science to the 12 or 8 peppers, that's just how many we had ripe that day. Plus we like SPICE!
4 Large Vidalia Onions - halved and sliced. (Why four? One for each bowl, of course!)
4 Large knobs of Ginger - peel and slice thin across the grain. I left the knobs un-halved, though I sliced them very thin I wanted the slices big enough to see. I love the flavor fresh ginger brings to the table, but I don't very much like to actually bite into a piece unaware.
2 Cups Canning Salt - divided
In my four bowls I put the sliced cucumbers, I topped them with the other veggies and ginger, distributing them evenly between the bowls. I did this to keep the stirring later to a minimum. I then dumped each bowl into my "Big Daddy Pressure Cooker" by turns. After dumping in a bowl I topped it with 1/2 c. canning salt and some ice cubes. Repeating until all were incorporated. I actually had to wait a bit for some ice to melt between bowls 3 and 4. I sped it up some by pouring cold water over it and stirring minimally until I could squeeze in the remainder.
I left this to brine for around 3 hours then drained well (I did not rinse) After draining I put the cuke mix back into the pot and poured the vinegar/sugar/spice mix (below) over them. Over high heat, I heated the mixture just to boiling. NOTE: This took a long time and required more stirring than I wanted to do which broke up some of my nice slices. Next time (since I have now figured out just how much of the mix I need) I will bring my liquids to a boil FIRST in another pan and pour the boiling mix over the veggies and then cook just until it almost reboils. Should take much less time and stirring.
12 cups Red Wine Vinegar
12 cups sugar
3 1/2 T. Turmeric
7 T. Mustard Seed
4 T. Celery Seed - I only had one left on hand, so I added some fresh celery
4 T. Red Pepper Flake - Yes, I did say we like spice!
Then just to jack up the flavor a bit more... I added
4 more large knobs of ginger - this is ginger that had not gone through the brining, I wanted it to have a fresher bite.
This was enough to can 2 batches in my water bath canner (14 Qts.) and enough left over for a nearly full Qt. for the refrigerator that I didn't process... 'Cuz you have to have some right away the next day... right...?
Oh hey, I almost forgot to say that I filled my sterilized qt.jars with the hot pickles leaving at least 1/4 inch headspace, and processed them for 20 minutes once my water bath returned to a boil. Details.
Weeeellll, it took nearly as long to record this recipe as it did to make it! Whew! And just about he time I went to publish... I got a little trigger happy, hit a goofy key-stroke combo and deleted everything?!?!? How do you spell f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-n-g??? It was all worth it though, because it is here... for the duration... in the cloud... and I will never, ever again misplace my Bread-n-Butter Pickle recipe. And the prince and princess lived happily-ever-after on their 40 little acres out in Banjo Land.......