Bread and Butter Pickles

At our annual neighborhood Christmas party a couple of years ago, our friend Emily gave JR and me pickles. Pickles that, as our supply dwindled, caused me to ration pickle servings in our house. They were that good.

Fortunately, she also gave us the recipe for the pickles (thank you, Emily!), yet, somehow, I had neglected to make them. Until last week.

A little research shows that this pickle recipe is pretty close to other bread and butter pickle recipes, only this recipe uses more sugar, and less mustard seed than the others found online, in books, and in magazines.

I’m not sure if more sugar is the secret ingredient that makes these pickles so addictive, but if you’re going to give them to friends, you might want to give them two jars. Plus the recipe. It’s only right.

I decided to call them sweet pickles while I was delirious from pickling, jamming, boiling, and steaming.

Emily's Bread and Butter Pickles

Yield: Makes approximately 14 half-pint jars or 7 pint jars


    This is a canning exercise, so please do a refresher on canning techniques if you aren't an avid canner.
    You'll need to wash and sterilize your jars and lids, and prepare the steam or boiling water bath to seal the jars once the pickles are packed into the jars, and you'll need a cooling rack to allow the jars to cool completely to room temperature before stashing away.
    There is also a 3-hour sliced-cucumbers-sitting-under-ice phase of this process, so please plan accordingly. I sliced and iced at 6:30am, then starting the cooking 3 hours later.
  • 4 quarts/16 cups sliced cucumbers (approximately 8 large cucumbers), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 6 medium onions, peeled, trimmed, and sliced lengthwise into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 green peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced lengthwise into 1-inch wedges (me, I'm not so much a fan of green peppers, so my pickles went without)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and stem end trimmed off
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 5 pounds crushed (or smallish cubes of) ice
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Place the sliced cucumbers, the onions, peppers, and garlic in a large stockpot, then sprinkle the salt over top.
  2. Cover the vegetables with the 5 pounds of ice, and let them stand for 3 hours. At the end of the icing time, drain the vegetables completely.
  3. Add the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric to the vegetables, stir well, then bring the vegetables to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boiling is the step in canning that kills microorganisms, and also deactivates enzymes, which can affect taste, texture, and color of foods. Hence, boiling is key to preservation.
  4. Transfer the pickles to sterilized jars, packing the vegetables in, then cover them completely with the pickling liquid so that the liquid is within 1/4-inch of the top of the jar. Remove any air bubbles from the jars with a sterilized tool before sealing (I use hors d'oeuvres picks that are not metal).
  5. Place your lids on, secure the lid bands loosely (too tight a band impedes the lid's formation of a seal in the boiling water bath), then process the jars in a boiling or steam bath for 10 minutes (begin timing after the water has returned to boiling), remove from the bath and cool on a wire rack.
  6. When the jars are removed from the bath, those that have successfully sealed will make a satisfying popping noise, like a teeny percussion section on your stove top. Pop-pop-pop.
  7. To be sure that your jars are sealed, once the jars have cooled, press down in the middle of each lid. Any lids that spring up after you've pressed down on them are not sealed.
  8. Sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Unsealed jars should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two weeks. This should not be a problem. You'll probably need to unseal a couple of jars to get through two weeks. If you and yours are pickle freaks.

Hurrah for weird pickle rhymes! And for sweet pickles!

*this is by no means a comprehensive guide to canning (that would take many, many, many posts), so please do familiarize yourself with technique and safety concerns before canning.

2 Comments to Bread and Butter Pickles

  1. Jayne says:

    I love sweet pickles! That’s a gift I’d like to receive! Your jars look so pretty!

  2. Amy McCoy says:

    Thank you, Jayne! They were fun to dress up (cupcake liners are the secret!).

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