Grandma's Bread and Butter Pickles, my favorite.

This morning a friend was looking to recreate a type of sweet pickle she tried while traveling in Texas. She described it as "pretty basic, thinly sliced cucumber, sweet onions, red and green bell peppers (mandolin thin). They tasted like a pretty basic pickling recipe, sweeter over salty or spicy." I immediately thought of my mom's bread and butter pickles, but my mom was at work and didn’t have the recipe so I called my 80 year old grandma who originally gave her the recipe. It was really nice. Both she and my grandpa answered the phone from different rooms and the three of us talked for a while. Awesome!

Here's their recipe:

~6 pounds of cucumbers thinly sliced (should be 4 quarts sliced)
~1.5 c sliced onions
~2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
~1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

In a large container (the more spread out the pickles can be, the better. My mom uses wide/deep rectangular plastic tub or even a clean sink), sprinkle 1/3 c pickling salt and mix thoroughly with above ingredients. Add 2 quarts or more of ice, mix it up, let sit for 3 hours (this crisps the pickle chips). Drain thoroughly, but don’t rinse (rinse if you’re watching sodium intake).

Make the syrup:

4 c sugar
1/5 tsp turmeric
1/5 tsp celery seed
2 tbsp mustard seeds
3 c white vinegar

Heat the syrup to a boil, add the veg mix and heat for 5 minutes, no longer. At this point my mom and grandma pack into sterilized pint jars, process in a boiling water bath for only 5 minutes (which seems crazy short to me especially at their mountain altitude.I’ve eaten them my entire life and didn’t die, but based on USDA recommendations I have to recommend a longer processing time similar to these zucchini bread and butter pickles). Instead of processing you could pack into clean jars and refrigerate and would probably make a crisper pickle overall, but I'd halve or quarter the recipe for that to ensure they're eaten quickly. I've never tried these as a refrigerator pickle.

These are my all-time favorite pickle and I crave them year-round. I eat them on sandwiches, as a side dish to beef stroganoff, shepherd’s pie, etc... but the piccalilli Michael and I made earlier this year has earned a very, very close 2nd place. They remind me a bit of my grandma's mustard pickles.

PS. I'd also note that this recipe creates a fairly sweet pickle. If you're looking for something a little more sour and a little less sweet, try it with the brine recommended in the above-linked USDA recipe. One more thing, my mom warns that you do this in batch sizes no larger than listed above. One year she and my sister-in-law had a disaster because they followed all the steps but because of the delays in processing so many jars, the pickles sat in heated brine/jars for extra long while waiting for their turn in the water bath canner. It essentially cooked her cucumbers.


  1. YUM. I can't wait to make a batch of these! I love bread and butter pickles!

  2. These are really popular in Australia. I made a batch last weekend that are sitting in the cupboard ready for me to eat up!


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