Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Bread & Butters

   The crisp freshness of garden fresh cucumbers married with the tang and zing of sugar and mustard seed bring to life the wonder of bread and butter pickles. My experience shows when it comes to bread and butters you either absolutely love them or absolutely hate them; no middle ground exists.
   Growing up with large family gardens, bread and butters were part of our regular canning routine. Regular family cookouts brought these beautiful treats out of the pantry and onto the table. Grandpa and I loved them tucked in a burger right between the bread and the chips- delightful! Today my kids have grown up with bread and butters on their burgers, sandwiches, and straight from the jar.
   With wild southern seasons, cucumber harvests can be feast or famine. Last years extreme drought left us with very little to work with...which always stirs the creative juices (smile with me). Out of that terrible year of garden disaster came the flex-recipe version for bread and butter pickles.

Farmhouse Bread & Butters (Flex-Recipe)

For every 6 cucumbers:
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 red cayenne pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon mustard seed
pinch of ginger
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

 Once the cucumbers are thinly sliced, toss them with the onion and salt in a bow. and allow them to stand at room temp while mixing the liquid.
In a saucepan, stir together the remaining ingredients and bring them to a boil. Remove from heat. Drain any liquid off the cucumber mixture; add to the sauce and give it a good stir.
Place the mixture into a quart jar and chill. They are tasty after only a few hours and will keep nicely for several weeks.

   This year's cucumber harvest has been much more substantial; demanding the traditional canning version to be called into action.

Farmhouse Bread & Butters (full version)

24 medium cucumbers, thin sliced
10 medium onions, thin sliced
4 cayenne peppers, thin sliced
1 tablespoon salt
1 qt. vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric

Toss the cucumbers, onions and peppers with the salt to set while making the vinegar sauce.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil; remove from heat. 
Rinse cucumber mixture before stirring into the vinegar sauce.
Pack into sterilized jars and process to seal.

   A few notes:
   I use hot peppers and often a clove of garlic or two to add a little extra zip to the pickles.
   If mustard seed is not found in my pantry on pickling day, I use mustard instead.
   Brown sugar is my choice, but white works just as well.
   I choose to water bath process my jars 10 minutes.

   My pantry shelves are well stocked with tasty, tangy bread and butters for all this summer's family cookouts...the question is...
      are you a bread and butter fan? or a bread and butter foe?


J.E. Traweek said...

I can almost taste them!
Hope you guys got lots of this afternoon RAIN!!!
:-)) Judy

Missy said...

These look awesome! I plan on canning pickles for the first time this year. I can't wait!

MIssy @ http://gracefullittlehoneybee.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Those look delicious!!

Inviting you to this week's Carnival of Home Preserving up at my blog and open until this Thursday. New edition each Friday.
http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2012/06/carnival-of-home-preserving-15-come.html Hope to see you there!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming over and linking this up at the Carnival of Home Preserving! Come back this Friday for the next edition. Hope to see you there!