Yanno what I love about cooking? Well, there’s always the fact that I get to eat what I’m cooking – but cooking also means I get to taste & tweak and adjust and make things just how I want them. Case in point: Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles.
See I think dill pickles are okay and even great on the right thing (Cuban Sandwiches for one!) But dill pickles just don’t “do it” for me. I’m like “Meh.” And I like bread and butter pickles, but they’re very sweet and kind of “one-note.” So in this recipe, you’re going to find a no dill, refrigerator not too sweet bread & butter pickle with a good bit of zing and tons of flavor. They’re like a symphony of flavors and they’re gonna sing! If that appeals to you, read on!
About Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles:
There’s something magical about making pickles. You take a handful of ingredients and toss them together and somehow you have more. It’s really kind of amazing how just a couple of small cucumbers can make several jars. Of course, if you’re a big-time canner, you know this. But if you’re like me and like to just experiment with a couple of easy recipes every season, maybe you “get” that loaves and fishes feeling.
And after you make your own refrigerator pickles & see how easy they are, taste them & see how good they are, you’re gonna give those ol’ pickles on the shelves at the grocery the side-eye. It’s nothing to make these – about 10 minutes of active, working time and I swear you’re gonna want to make them all the time.
This is really a small recipe, two 8 ounce jars, a pint. Part of the beauty of a small recipe like this is it’s no huge investment in time or money to make, so it’s a great recipe to experiment with. Try it as written, adjust next time if you’d like. And if you want more, double the recipe (or more.) These make great little gifts when put in a pretty jar, maybe a hostess gift – and you’ll look like a domestic goddess (or god!) Just make sure the recipient understands these need to be kept in the fridge.
The Difference Between Refrigerator Pickles and Canned Pickles:
I’m going to take a minute here for any newbies to making pickles, just to explain the difference between refrigerator pickles and canned pickles. Refrigerator pickles are made just like any other pickle, but they’re put in sterilized jars and kept in the refrigerator. The recipe may or may not be suitable for canning.
When you can pickles (or jam or jelly, or anything acidic) you use a specific recipe tested as safe for canning, put them in sterilized jars canning jars and then put the lidded jars in a water bath. You’ll then process them (let them boil away) for a specified time. Once removed from the water bath, they’ll seal and are safe and shelf-stable outside the fridge.
Back in the day, we would just add the cucumbers and onions and spice to a jar, pour over the hot brine and let the heat of the jar seal the lid. This is no longer considered a safe method. I love the site National Center For Home Preservation and use it to find all kinds of up to date information on canning and other methods of preserving.
Making Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles:
Part of what makes these refrigerator pickles so easy is that we get to avoid the boiling water bath processing. You will literally just chop up some cucumbers and thinly slice some onion. Layer them in your sterilized jar (fresh from the dishwasher is fine, too) and then pour in a brine (a mixture of vinegar and sugar) that has boiled together. Drop in a few pickling spices and you’re done!
There is one optional step. To make sure the pickles are as crispy as possible, salt the raw cucumbers by tossing them with (preferably) Kosher salt. Put the cucumbers in a strainer over a container to catch any liquid and sprinkle with salt. Move the slices around a bit just to make sure all the slices get a little coating of salt and them leave them in the fridge for an hour and a half or so. Then rinse thoroughly before continuing. If I skip this step, I like to add a pinch or two of salt to my brine.
Most bread & butter pickles use anywhere one cup of sugar to one cup of vinegar to 3/4’s cup of sugar to 1 cup of vinegar. This recipe has an even lower ratio of sugar to vinegar, about 1/3 cup of sugar to 1 cup of vinegar, which is why they are tart. The amount of brine needed can vary depending on the size and shape of the jars. I usually use a cup and a half for two jars just to be on the safe side & know I have enough. I only put a smidge of pickling spices because the flavor gets stronger with time. I swear by my own blend of Homemade Pickling Spice, but any will work. And you might want to experiment, too.
Saving Money on Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles:
These pickles were made with those little “gourmet” baby cucumbers – they’re something I don’t usually buy because they’re pricey but they were gifted to me. Regular small pickling cucumbers are fine, too, and won’t break the budget. Try Aldi if you have one nearby and you’ll find trays of them in season. I’m guessing your buyer’s club has them too, maybe in larger quantities and never discount farmer’s markets. Prices can vary there but you sometimes will find incredible deals.
Vinegar is an item I try to buy and stock up on during the pre-Easter sales (Lent) when not only does plain old white and apple cider vinegar go on sale but the fancy ones, too, often unadvertised. I use vinegar for all kinds of things around the house, salad dressings, marinades, and other items.
Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles
Prepare two jars by sterilizing or running through the dishwasher on a high heat setting. This should be done so that they are ready just prior to the layering of the cucumbers and onions.
- 2 to 4 small cucumbers, cut 1/4″ thick or less (enough to make 2 cups, loosely packed)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (optional)
- 1/2 onion that has been sliced in half, pole to pole, then sliced across
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
I’m happy to announce that this week I will be cohosting at Fiesta Friday #286 with Laurena @ Life Diet Health. I almost always post my recipes at Fiesta Friday; if you click over, you’ll see lots of photos of recipes and a few other items. Just click on one and you’ll zip over to that blogger’s site. It’s a fun way to see the week’s recipes from many bloggers all in one place.