No Canning Necessary: Half Sour and Bread and Butter Pickles

Half Sour Refridgerator Pickles2

Not only am I getting cucumbers from my CSA share at Pakeen Farm every week, but my in-law’s garden is bursting with them. Our house is full of big salad cucumbers and the small Kirby cucumbers perfect for pickling. Hubby can devour cucumber after cucumber in the same way that I attack a perfect peach. I tolerate cucumbers, but never once have I said to myself “If only I had a cucumber to eat right now.” Yeah, not ever – not even once.

Half sour pickles are as easy as crisping in ice, layering in the jar with herbs and spices and pouring a salty brine on top

Half sour pickles are as easy as crisping in ice, layering in the jar with herbs and spices and pouring a salty brine on top

With Hubby’s cucumber appetite sated and more pickle cucumbers showing up almost daily, I’ve started pickling them to keep up with the supply. Even though I’m also not a huge fan of most commercial pickles, I do like good homemade pickles. Both of the recipes given below are examples of why homemade pickles are so much better than store-bought.

Making and canning pickles is a great introduction to someone that wants to learn the art and science involved. Traditionally, half-sour pickles are a fresh pickle served cold from the fridge. However, the bread and butter pickles are a classic canning pickle. I don’t go through enough pickles in a year to justify canning them, but you certainly could. If you want to know more about how to can pickles or for instructions, I would start with the site Food in Jars.

To make bread and butter pickles you salt the cucumbers and sliced onions and let it marinate under ice for a few hours. You then rinse the salt off, making the pickling liquid, add the cucumbers and onions then cram it all in a big jar.

To make bread and butter pickles you salt the cucumbers and sliced onions and let it marinate under ice for a few hours. You then rinse the salt off, making the pickling liquid, add the cucumbers and onions then cram it all in a big jar.

I never had a half-sour pickle until my first visit to Rein’s deli in Vernon, CT. These salty, crunchy pickles were more to my taste since I’m not a huge fan of vinegary pickles. They taste of cucumber, salt, dill and garlic. These are the pickles so popular in delis all over New York city.

My grandmother used to make tiny sweet pickles about the size of gherkins. Every summer when we visited Alabama, I remember eating these pickles right from the jar. When she knew we were coming to visit, she would put a Tupperware jar full of them aside just for my sister and I (less she had to can). An added bonus of the sweet pickles is that they are lower in sodium than standard pickles because the cucumber are salted and then rinsed. While certainly not identical, these bread and butter pickles are reminiscent of her sweet pickles. Instead of the tiny gherkins I use sliced Kirby pickles, but the flavor is full of those sweet summer memories.Enjoy!




Half Sour Pickles

Half Sour Pickles

These vinegar free pickles are the pickle-hater's pickle. If you are one of those people (like me) that doesn't like sour pickles, but like cucumbers, then this is your pickle. A brine made from salt water, dill and spices gives the pickles great flavor without the vinegar tang. Storing them in the fridge insures that they will turn out great without having to mess with fermenting anything.

1 pound of cucumbers, sliced 1/4” thick

1 carrot, peeled and sliced in coins

2 tablespoons pickling salt (or 1 1/2 ounce Kosher salt)

2 cups water

2 cloves garlic, halved

6 stems of dill (about 1/4 cup)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds (fresh if possible)

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 bay leaf, broken in pieces

1/4 teaspoon celery seeds

Slice cucumbers and carrot and plunge in ice water. Soak in ice water for 1-2 hours. Drain. Add the carrots and set aside.

Mix salt and water and stir until the salt has completely dissolved. Combine coriander seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaf pieces and celery seeds.

In a large, one quart canning jar, add about 1/4 of the cucumber and carrot slices. Top with 1/4 quarter of the fresh dill, a half clove of garlic and 1/4 of the spice mixture. Repeat this layering until the pickles are all used or until the jar is packed full. Depending on how you pack the pickles in the jar, your jar and the size of your cucumbers, you may end up a few cucumber slices that do not fit in the jar. If you do, then lucky you – snack time. The top of the jar should have the rest of the dill. Pour the salt water into the jar until the level is above the top pickle slice and about 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Seal tightly with the lid and turn the jar over allowing the spices to mingle with the cucumber slices. Refrigerate.

Once a day, turn the jar over a few times to keep mixing the spices with the pickling liquid. The pickles will be ready to eat in as few as three days, but the flavor will continue to develop for about a week. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks.

It is VERY important not use iodized salt. Pickling salt is preferred because it does not contain iodine or other ingredients to prevent the salt from caking which can affect the finished pickle and make the pickling liquid cloudy and off-color. I use Kosher salt as it does not have iodine in it and contains less anti-caking agents than table salt

Note: Commercial pickles and many home preservers use calcium chloride to make pickles super crisp. If you are looking for a product to insure a crisp final product, then this may be what you are looking for. Before calcium chloride was widely available, people used lime to achieve the same result. Calcium chloride is certainly a far safer product than lime, and about as inert as table salt. However, if you are squeamish about using anything with a chemical sounding name, then just avoid it all together. I don’t use it because I can’t be bothered to buy it, and my pickles are still very tasty.

My bread and butter pickles are adapted from recipes found at Simply Recipes and Smitten Kitchen

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and butter pickles are sweet, sour and spicy pickles that everyone thinks of when they think of sweet pickles. These are no different. Loaded with lots of spices, these babies pack a punch of flavor, without a ton of salt. Not only is there no salt in the pickling liquid, but after salting the cucumbers, you rinse off the excess salt. However, it's important to note that even though these are lower in sodium than dill and half sour pickles, they are not necessarily low-sodium. (I do not have a way to calculate the sodium in this recipe). These pickles can be packed easily using standard heat-canning procedures.

1 pound pickling cucumbers, sliced (kirby cucumbers are the best)

1 small sweet onion, sliced thin

1 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 cup distilled vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

2-3 allspice berries

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

pinch ground cloves

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers and slice in 1/4 inch slices. Toss the cucumbers, onion and salt together in a large bowl. Cover with lots of ice and let sit out at room temp for about two hours. Discard the ice and rinse the sliced veggies in cold water. Drain and rinse a second time. Again, drain well.

Combine the sugar, vinegars, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, allspice, celery seed, turmeric and cloves in a large pot. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes, then add the cucumber and onion. As soon as the pot starts to bubble again, remove from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a large quart canning jar. Pour the canning liquid over the pickles. Seal tightly and allow to cool. Once the jars are cool, store in the refrigerator. Once the pickles have fully cooled they will be ready to eat, but the flavor will continue to develop for several days. They keep refrigerated for a few months.



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4 Responses to No Canning Necessary: Half Sour and Bread and Butter Pickles

  1. Julie says:

    Great recipes! I have some pickles to make this weekend :)

  2. Pingback: An End of Year Countdown - Its Not Easy Eating Green

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