I was raised on dill pickles: sour, spicy, herby, and crisp, the kind that will wake up your taste buds. Not sweet. Sweetness has no place on a pickle. I’m not even that big on relish. So bread & butter pickles have never really been my thing. Plus, I find the bright yellow store pickles off putting.
Wait, wait, hear me out. I was uninitiated! It isn’t surprising that our parent’s tastes (like their politics, values, and styles) permeate our own. My parents never served us sweet pickles, so how was I to know that a sandwich with semi-sweet pickles was delicious?
My “transformation” started this spring, with the carrot relish you see in the banner photo. (I will remake that and write about it soon.) It was amazing on burgers and sandwiches. So I had this revelation: “sweet and crunchy is good.”
I wanted to try a new pickle recipe (still on the hunt for the best pickles!) and Becky over at Chicken Wire and Paper Flowers had posted a recipe from a book from the 70s. I figured any recipe that is still around after that long must be pretty good. The full recipe is below.
It took me two days to make them. See, you should really read the full recipe before starting. There’s a step where you let the veggies sit in salt for 3 hours. Once those three hours were up, I was due at a friend’s. So I rinsed them and put them in the fridge until the next day.
After finishing the recipe, you’re supposed to wait, so I dutifully packed them into jars, labeled with, “open after 9/21,” and waited. Honestly, I’m not sure the importance of waiting, but Becky said they are better the longer you let them sit, so fair enough. At any rate, I opened the jar on Monday. Holy smokes, these are delightful little beasts.
The pickles are sweet but not harshly sweet, just a perfect flavor. They’re a little yellow from the turmeric, but not fluorescent. They are exactly what a bread and butter pickle should be. They taste amazing on sandwiches, and are fun even as a snack. I will be taking them as my contribution to the appetizer lunch at Ladies Preservation Society today. Yes, they are good enough to give to others without apology, and the recipe is big enough that I don’t feel like a fool for sharing.
Recipe (I halved the recipe from The Ideals Family Garden Cookbook, via Chicken Wire and Paper Flowers)
Makes about 3 pints (using 2 lbs of cukes)
½ gallon cucumbers (about 2 – 3 lbs cucumbers)
4 small white onions
1 green pepper (shredded)
¼ cup salt
2.5 cups sugar
¾ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
½ tsp celery seeds
2.5 cups cider vinegar
Wash veggies. Slice cucumbers and onions crosswise in very thin slices. I used a mandoline at 1/8” thickness. Using a cheese grater, grate the green pepper (this is harder and more wasteful than it sounds, so cutting into small pieces would work, too). Mix the veggies with salt in a bowl. Stir in about a tray of ice cubes, to keep cold. Cover with a weighted lid and let stand for 3 hours. Rinse and drain thoroughly.
To make the syrup, mix all the dry goods together, then add vinegar.
Combine syrup and veggies in a large pot. Put over low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very hot but not yet boiling.
Place in hot sterile jars, add lids, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Let stand 4-6 weeks before opening.