I have vivid memories of eating my aunts Marjorie’s bread and butter pickles as a kid at her home in Loveland, Co. I remember sitting at her round oak kitchen table(that years before belonged to my grand mother)in the tiny two bedroom gray tar paper house. Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Jack loved to garden and preserve fresh organic food. They were children of the depression and lived a frugal life style but eat better than most kings.She was a master at canning and making preserves and learned a lot from her. If she were still alive today she would be 96 years old and still asking me if I wanted to go out to the garden to pick things for a dinner salad. Fast forward 12 years and I met and married my husband who had eaten many batches of home-made Bread and Butter Pickles too. His Mom and Dad loved to make them out of the garden on the farm. Where neighbors would ask for a jar every time they had a family function or made potato salad . Yet, for some reason I never thought of making a batch of my own sweet/sour/crunchy/onion filled jar of delight. Maybe I thought the process was to long and to complicated for an afternoon project. What I discovered was that this is easy to do in a day and I made about 8 pints my first try. They are as good as every memory I have of the pickles and I cant wait to share them with my kids.
So after looking through recipes that my elderly aunt sent to me. I found her hand written recipe for the wonderful pickles and one that I had copied out of my mother-in-laws cook book 7 or 8 years ago. ( Again why did I wait so long??)I began with a small batch so that I could taste test them as I went through the process. I wanted a crispy tangy pickle and was not sure I would get it.Really for a beginner pickles are a perfect started point and cucumbers in the summer are always easy to grow or find.
To begin the process of making Bread and Butter Pickles you will need about 20 to 30 med sized pickling cucumbers with the blossom end removed. Removing the blossom end removes an enzyme that make the pickles go soft when heated. You also need around 3 to 4 yellow onions. The yellow stay crisper in the jar so we use them.
After I wash and slice the pickles and onions they soak together in a salt water brine for 5 to 6 hours. This improves the crunch factor and adds the needed salt to preserve the pickles over time. I made 1/4 inch pickle slices with my mandoline slicer and added them to the brine in the early morning and headed off to a Dr appointment. After lunch I drained off the brine to remove the extra salt and rinsed them with cold water a couple of times and set them aside until the pickle syrup is finished.
After the spices sugar and vinegar boil for just a couple of minutes strain the spices through a cloth or sieve. Add the brined onions and cucumber slices to the stock pot and heat until very hot but not boiling.
When pickles are hot, pack into warm sterilized jars and top with enough of pickle syrup to cover all ingredients in the jar. Then clean the lip of each jar and cover with a clean lid and seal. Process all the jars in a boiling water bath for ten minutes and cool on a flat surface. I got 8 and 1/2 quarts of pickles out of this batch of cucumbers. They should store well for over a year but may lose color the older they get.
Bread and Butter Crispy Kerr pickles
20 to 25 med size sliced cucumbers
2 to 3 yellow med onions
3/4 cup salt
3 quarts water to cover sliced veg
Add salt into 4 quarts of warm water and add cucumbers and onions, let set 5 to 6 hours. Drain and rinse with cool water a couple of times to remove extra salt.
Add to a large non-reactive stock pot:
5 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
2 Tablespoon mixed pickle spices
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.
Bring mixture to a boil, boil 2 minutes and strain spices from syrup.
Add all the slices of onion and cucumber and heat until steaming but not boiling.
Pack into warm sterilized jars and top with sterilized rings and seals. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
remove and cool. Makes about 8 quarts .
After the jars had cooled my son arrived for dinner that evening. I told him what I had made and I asked if he wanted to taste a few of the pickles and give me his opinion. He opened a jar took a fork and pulled out a large amount of dripping pickles and took a crunching bite. He then disappeared into the living room with the entire jar. A few minute later he reappeared in my kitchen with a fork and an empty pint jar. Astonished, I ask where were the rest of the pickles. He replied, rubbing his tummy,” I eat them”. So I know if nothing else Cody and I will eat them and they will never go to waste.