60 min plus 2-4 hrs ice time
8 pint jars (may be halved)
Tangy and sweet, bread & butter pickles are an old-fashioned favorite best made with largish (4 inches or so) pickling (Kirby) cucumbers. If these are not available, use regular cucumbers of the smallest size you can find: you want a cucumber with the least seeds possible.
  • 5 pounds cucumbers
  • 2 pounds new onions, white or yellow
  • ½ cup fine-ground pickling salt
  • 2½ cups white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 3 to 4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick 2 inches long
  • 12 allspice berries, plus a pinch of ground allspice
  • 12 whole cloves, plus a pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 6-8 cups ice cubes or crushed ice

rinse, slice, and salt, and chill

Rinse the cucumbers well, and scrub away any dirt that the farmer may have left on. Slice off 1/8″ from each end, and discard. (There is an enzyme in the blossom end that would make your pickles mushy. Get rid of it.)

Slice the cucumbers 1/4″ thick, and put into a 4-5 quart nonreactive bowl or basin. Have the onions lengthwise, then slice the halves crosswise 1/4″ thick, and add them to the cucumbers. Pour the salt over all, and mix well together.  (NOTE: be sure to use a salt without additives, because regular salt will make muddy dark pickles) 

Pile on an inch or two of ice. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and put it in the refrigerator or a cooler for 2 to 4 hours.

prep jars for canning

Prepare 8 pint jars for canning: either boil them in a large kettle of water for 10 minutes, or run them through the dishwasher. Set 8 bands aside, ready to use. Put 8 lids in a heat-proof bowl, cover them with boiling water, and let the lids stand until you are ready to use them.

drain and rinse cucumbers

When you’re ready to proceed, discard the ice from the sliced cucumbers and onions. Rinse the vegetables thoroughly, drain, and then rinse and drain again.

make brine, boil, then pack into jars

Take a 6 to 8 quart non-reactive pot (I like stainless steel for this). Pour in both vinegars, the sugar, and all the spices. Bring this to a boil, stirring occasionally, and make sure that the sugar is dissolved. Add the sliced cucumbers and onions, and bring back to the boil. As soon as the liquid begins boiling again, use a slotted spoon to pack the hot jars with the vegetables. Pack each jar, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Then pour the hot vinegar/spice solution over the vegetables to within one-half inch from the rim. Wipe the rims clean, cover with lids, then secure finger-tight with the bands.

process in waterbath

Process the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (up to altitudes of 1000 feet above sea level.) Let jars cool on a towel, and listen for the cheerful popping sound as the lids seal. If a lid does not seal properly, store the jar in the refrigerator and use it promptly.


2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your recipe! It was my first time pickling and we made 90 (tiny) jars for my favors. All so far appear to have sealed. We did the same processing time per instructions for smaller jars from another site. Your recipe had the most detail and specifics of any I looked at. The brine smelled delicious, and I can’t wait to taste them!

    • You are so very welcome! I hadn’t thought to make tiny jars of pickles – they must look so darned cute. Best wishes to you for now and your future.

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