Canning holds a lot of sentimental value for me—the popping lids and steaming kettles of food evoke warm memories of my mother’s and grandmothers’ cozy kitchens and home-canned goodies. That alone makes it worthwhile, but canning has other benefits as well. Buying large quantities of fruits and vegetables in season saves money on our yearly grocery bill. I like knowing where my food comes from and what’s in it.
Pickles are one of my must-can items every year. Home-canned pickles delicious and easy to make, they are considerably cheaper than store-bought pickles and free of the corn syrup, preservatives and artificial colors often found in commercial brands.
Although I love making garlic dills, this year I decided to do some bread and butter pickles as well. Bread and butter pickles are simple to make, and their sweet mild flavor is great for sandwiches or just for munching straight out of the jar.
The recipe below comes from Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything by Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer. This cookbook from Herald Press (a Mennonite publishing company) has quickly become one of my favorites. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, and the large color photos are helpful as well.
Bread and Butter Pickles
1 gallon thinly sliced cucumbers (adjust thickness to your taste)
2 C. thinly sliced onions
2 thinly sliced red bell peppers
½ C. pickling salt (not iodized)
1 quart crushed ice
Mix the vegetables and stir in salt and ice. Let stand three hours.
After three hours, drain the liquid from the veggies. Mix the syrup ingredients (below) and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add the drained veggies and bring to a boil again, then simmer for three minutes.
5 C. sugar
½ t. turmeric
½ t. ground cloves
2 T. mustard seed
1 t. celery seed
3 C. vinegar
2 C. water
Pack into clean, sterilized jars, leaving ¼” headspace at the top of the jar. Put in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. This recipe from Saving the Seasons makes about ten pints. Enjoy!
- If you’re new to canning and want even more detail, you can’t go wrong with the Ball Blue Book. Its simple, detailed instructions will show you how to preserve a wide variety of foods safely.
Lisa Amstutz is a freelance writer and editor. She lives on a six-acre hobby farm with her husband, four children and small menagerie of farm animals. Lisa is co-author of Local Choices and author of ten nonfiction picture books.