Crunchy, Sweet, and Tangy Bread and Butter Pickles
I Love bread and butter pickles. That sweet tangy crunch layered into burgers, diced in tunafish sandwiches, or just grabbed straight out of the jar and snacked on. As a kid, sweet pickles were the only pickled thing I really liked. Dill pickles, pickled onions, pickled beets, etc… Ick. Or at least that’s what my palate at a minion’s age thought. Since then I’ve come to love and appreciate nearly every kind of pickled delight, especially after spending over 2 decades eating Vietnamese food. It seems like the Vietnamese pickle just about anything and Diane’s mom and, of course Diane, are seriously good at it. Her pickled, slightly spicy & crunchy baby white eggplant is a thing of wonder and pure deliciousness. But my first and true pickle love is still the bread and butter pickle.
Homemade Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
Of course not all bread and butter pickles are the same. Most all have a good flavor, some just varying in sweetness or maybe given a spicy kick. But the real test for me is the crunch. The make-or-break factor for my favorite pickles is all about a great crunch.
Out of the commercially-made pickles I love Bubbies the most. Their Bread and Butter Chips are always a staple in our fridge. I want to love so many of the different artisan or homemade pickles I’ve tried from other brands, but so many times they have a lifeless texture. Where’s the coveted crunch? Maybe I just haven’t found the right one other than Bubbies.
Watch quick video we made for these Bread and Butter Pickles!
Persian and Japanese Cucumbers
Over the years we’d finally gotten our garden cucumbers to their happy place and can get quite the harvest. Usually growing either Persian cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers (unless the starters at the nursery have been mislabeled – had that happen more than once). The Persian and Japanese cucumbers have such a great crunch, even when we lag a little in picking them from the vines to make these bread and butter pickles.
However I’d been a bit hesitant about making bread and butter pickles out of them. What if I was horrible at pickling them and they have that lifeless softness? It would be such a waste. How do you keep that crunch when you pickle them?
Tips for Making These Sweet Pickles
So one summer I was determined to figure it out. After consulting the pickle masters (Diane and her mom, of course- their pickled stuff is the crunchiest), I had a plan of action.
- Using good cucumbers like we talked above: Persian cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers.
- Salt it and let it sit for an hour or two.
- Rinse, pat dry, and then let it sit out overnight to dry out a bit more.
- Then finish with the pickling brine and jar ’em up.
- Adjust sweetness to your personal taste. All recipe details are in the recipe box below.
I’m happy to report that the pickles are awesome. Great crunch, great flavor. I might not be buying any Bubbies for quite some time. Sorry Bubbies.
-Update- We’ve now been making these pickles for many years and they have become a staple in our fridge (although we still will buy Bubbies occasionally if in a time crunch and needs some pickles asap). Our homemade bread and butter pickles are still one of the best pickles we’ve found. Hope you love them too!
Canning and Storing the Bread and Butter Pickles
- These pickles are always best when stored in the fridge. They will maintain their crunch much better that way. Don’t freeze them. It will make the texture mushy.
- When storing in the fridge, we often won’t bother with using a hot water bath (just make sure you are using sterilized jars & lids). After the hot vinegar mix is poured over the cucumbers, we’ll turn the jars upside down to keep the hot liquid touching the inside of the lid for about 15-20 minutes. Then after flipping right-side up and allowing to cool, the lids will give their little pop down, indicating it is sealed. We always just keep them stored in the fridge.
- Stored in the fridge they’ll last with great quality for at least 8-12 months. Probably longer but we’ve never had a jar go un-eaten longer than that. But as always with any canned food, if it smells or looks funky, toss it out.
- These are shelf stable and don’t have to be stored it the fridge, but they won’t maintain as good of a texture. We find them to have a softer texture. If planning on storing the pickles at room temp., make sure to seal the jars thoroughly (no matter how store or seal the jars, make sure you are using sterilized jars & lids – that’s always important for any foods you store for an extended period of time). Most people will seal the jars for shelf storage by hot water bath canning.
- Another drawback to storing the pickles at room temp instead of the fridge, is that when you can the jars, the hot water bath will often cook the pickles a bit and soften their texture. That’s another reason why we always fridge store them and then seal the jars with by just turning them upside down for a bit.
- When stored in the at room temperature when correctly processed, the will last over a year. However, the texture softens the longer they are stored that way. And as mentioned above, as with any canned food, if it smells or looks funky, toss it out.
Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
- 3 pounds (1.36 kg) crisp cucumbers , sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1/2 medium (0.5 ) onion , thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (75 g) kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 cups (480 ml) white vinegar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) turmeric
- Place the cucumbers and onions in a colander resting in a large bowl or in the sink. Toss with the salt and let stand for 1-2 hours (the cucumbers will release a lot of water during salting).
- Rinse the cucumbers and onions and then place in a single layer on a couple of sheet pans lined with paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and let dry overnight.
- The next day, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large saucepan. Heat to a boil, cook until sugar is completely dissolved, and then remove from heat.
- Pack your sterilized canning jars with the cucumbers and onions, leaving about 1/2-inch space from the top of the jars. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions to fill the jars. Seal the jars according to manufacturer's instructions. (Because we store in the fridge, we don't bother with using a hot water bath to can the pickles (however always use sterilized jars & lids). After the hot vinegar mix is poured over the cucumbers, turn the jars upside down to keep the hot liquid touching the inside of the lid for about 15-20 minutes. Then after flipping right-side up and allowing to cool, the lids will give their little pop down, indicating it is sealed. When done this way, we always keep them stored in the fridge.)
- Store in the refrigerator and allow to sit for several days before opening to allow the flavors to fully develop. Best served chilled.
This sweet pickles post was originally published in 2014. Re-published in 2019 with new updates.
More easy recipes:
- Quick Pickled Sugar Snap Peas with Mint
- Inside a watermelon mojitos
- Spring Sweet Pea/Asparagus Pickles
- Curry Cauliflower Pickles & Love of salty crunch
- Vietnamese Style Pickled Carrots from Eating Local Cookbook
- Spicy Shrimp Ceviche
- bbq grilled cheese sandwich
Here’s a great and unique cucumber recipe.