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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Recipes Revisited: The Mighty Bread & Butter Pickle

With the harvest coming in, we thought now would be a good time to revisit some recipes we published last summer. First up, a recipe for a hamburger's best friend, the bread & butter pickle.

By Wes Eaton

The bread & butter pickle is a tangy, crisp fall and late summer favorite, yellow from turmeric, with a nuanced tang from vinegar and mustard seed. Cured in the jar, these sandwich toppers will add a touch of rustic homeyness to your usual fare. I’m putting up a double batch right now and encourage you all to do the same. Keep reading to learn how!

Here's a list of things you'll need:

    • Canning supplies (canning jars, bands, lids, canner)
    • 4-6 pounds pickling cucumbers
    • 2 pounds medium white onions
    • 1/3 cup canning salt
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
    • 2 teaspoons Tumeric
    • 2 teaspoons celery seed
    • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
    • 3 cups vinegar
    • 1 bag ice 
Start by planting a garden. Okay, a little late now, so start at the farmers market, or even the grocery store’s produce section. We're in the heart of August, so fresh pickles will only be around a few more weeks. Ask for and choose firm, dark green, ‘box’ shaped pickles, no longer than six inches. Slice chips to a width of less than a quarter inch with a serrated tomato knife for authentic ridging. Peel and slice the onions thin and mix all together in a large bowl with canning salt. Cover the veggies with ice. This quick cold brine extracts excess water from the pickle chips and contributes to lasting firmness and crunch. Place in the fridge for an hour at least and then drain and rinse.

Driving out excess water with salt
Meanwhile, wash your canning jars in hot sudsy water while bringing your canner bath to a subtle boil. As the time nears, place remaining ingredients in another large pot and bring to a boil. Add the rinsed pickle chips and onions and return to a boil. With everything heated up, its time to carefully pack your jars, wipe the lips, screw on the lids and process in the boiling canning bath for ten minutes.

A medley of flavors
Let your jars cool somewhere away from cool late summer breezes. Patiently listen for the lids to pop in, indicating a good seal; it may happen quick, but could take an hour or so. Those that don’t seal can be stored in the fridge. This should give you plenty of time to reflect on your efforts--good food you carefully prepared yourself, with ingredients of your own selecting and choosing. Satisfaction is what I’m talking about, with product to show for your efforts. Laying down preserved food, much like laying down wine or beer, affords you a sense of participation in the creation of your daily surroundings--the stuff that makes up your reality. An existential leap? I’ll leave that up to you. As for the flavor and snap, it's a no brainer for fans of the mighty bread and butter pickle.

Sealing the time capsules

Former Siciliano's staffer Weston Eaton is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Michigan State University. He lives with his wife and dogs in Grand Rapids, MI, where pickles aren't his bread & butter, but bread & butter are among his favorite pickles.

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