Andover Cooks Share Food Favorites: Bread and Butter Pickles

"My favorite thing to do is to make pickles"

By Sharon Lefebvre

Hello, my name is Sharon Lefebvre, and I have lived in East Andover for 44 years. We love it here and love our land, where we are able to grow our own organic vegetables. There is a good feeling about being fortunate enough to be able to grow your own produce and eat it fresh, share it with friends and family, and preserve the leftovers.
When it comes to preserving, one of my favorite things to do is to make pickles. There is such satisfaction in looking at a batch of those little jars of green yumminess. On that note, I thought I would share my recipe for bread and butter pickles.

Sharon Lefebvre loves making pickles. These are her bread and butter pickles. For October, Sharon is sharing her recipe with Beacon readers. Photo: Sharon Lefebvre

You will need ½ peck (1 gallon) of fresh, small-seeded cucumbers such as pickling or straight eights. Any combination is fine, as long as they have small seeds. 

This is a good recipe to use when the cukes are all coming in at once and you don’t know what to do with them. But, don’t let them get too big, or they will get mushy once they are pickled. I find that it usually takes twenty-odd cucumbers. 

I slice them with my mandolin, which is way easier when you are doing this quantity. Thickness is a matter of preference.

Bread and Butter Pickles: makes 8 pints. 

Important: Do not do any part of this process using aluminum utensils, bowls, or pots.
1 gallon sliced cucumbers
1 or 2 large white onions (thinly sliced)
2 or 3 large peppers (any color or combination), sliced
½ cup salt
Soak for three hours in ice: I slice my cukes and measure them into a gallon container for measurement. (I use my four-quart dutch oven.) I slice the onion on the mandolin also, but that doesn’t work for the peppers, so I do them by hand. I then take a very large stainless steel (or plastic) bowl and layer the vegetables with ½ cup of salt and crushed or smallish cubes of ice.
While the pickles are sitting in the ice, you can put together the brine. You will need at least an eight-quart stainless steel pot, but the larger the pot, the quicker the pickles will come to a boil and lessen the chance of them becoming overcooked. 

7 cups white vinegar
7 cups sugar
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric (Optional, for color; I don’t use it.)

Drain: After three hours, drain the cukes. It will take two colanders. The vegetables will have shrunk and the ice should be mostly melted. 
While the cucumbers are draining, bring the brine to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the drained cukes. Bring to a low boil for 1 minute.
Fill and seal the canning jars per safe canning procedures. A water bath is optional. I just fill the jars and invert them for an hour-ish and then turn them upright to finish cooling. The jars almost always seal this way and are safe to store for at least a couple of years (If they last that long!) because of the vinegar content. If a jar doesn’t seal, just refrigerate and eat that one first. They are ready to eat as soon as they are made. I hope you enjoy!