This lesson is 406 words, a 1 min 37 sec reading time. It is the sixth lesson of Lunch 2.0.
Salty, sweet, tangy, & crunchy, bread & butter pickles bring tremendous flavor and texture to myriad weekday staples. They are delicious alongside rich meats, heaped onto sandwiches, or even nibbled alone as a pre-dinner snack. Taking ~10 minutes of active work and lasting for weeks, this condiment is exceptionally high leverage.
While jarred, shelf-stable b&b pickles are highly convenient, they can often be syrupy sweet and a bit mushy. When made at home, these pickles are crispy, refreshing, and seasoned precisely as you like. Pickling spice is highly flexible, and you can have quite a bit of fun experimenting with your brine and spice blend.
Go ahead and get creative. They're your pickles. Make them how you like them. 🎨
1 lb pickling cucumbers (e.g., kirbys)
2 tbsp kosher salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup vinegar (e.g., cider, white)
3 tbsp pickling spice (e.g., $$)
~1/3 cup hot water (optional)
3 sprigs dill (optional)
2 garlic cloves (optional)
Wash & trim cucumbers. Then slice thin (a mandolin helps).
Toss with salt in a colander over a plate. Refrigerate for ~2 hours.
Heat the pickling spices, sugar, & vinegar together in a small saucepan. Alternatively, dissolve sugar in hot water.
Combine with remaining ingredients & cucumbers in a large glass jar.
Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
📝 Notes Tips & Tricks:
The fresher the cucumbers are, the crisper the pickles will be.
Pickling spice is easy to make from what you have. A few ideas include mustard seed, allspice berries, peppercorns, coriander seeds, celery seeds, whole cloves, ground ginger, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, chilies, cumin, turmeric.
If available, ready-made pickling spice is a time saver.
For extra flavor, toast the spices in a pan before adding them to the brine.
Pickling salt is not necessary. Kosher salt is equally pure (e.g., iodine free)
Pickling is more art than science, and recipes vary tremendously. Some common variations include: rinsing off the salt, adding onions/peppers, grinding the spices, etc. Don't sweat the minutiae. It is hard to mess these up!
For shelf-stable pickles, sterilize the jars and follow instructions for canning.
A famous depression-era sandwich consisted of bread & butter with pickles (hence the name "Bread & Butter" pickles 😉).
🎓 Further Study
Bread & Butter Pickles [NYTimes]
DIY Bread-and-Butter Pickles Recipe [YouTube]
Homemade Pickling Spice [All Recipes]
🗣 Discussion topic: What’s your favorite type of pickle? Comment below👇