Of all the strange things I have made and written about on this blog, bread and butter pickles are probably the strangest. Baked goods and dinner items can obviously be altered according to personal taste, but the recipe for pickles is pretty standard, and you can just as easily buy them in a jar. So why waste the energy to make them yourself? Well for starters, pickling things is really easy. Most of the pickling process is waiting, so the hardest part is really just restraining yourself from eating the pickles before they’re done. Also, like most homemade food, they taste better. You don’t taste the can and the preservatives, so the pickles have a fresh, crispy, juicy bite that’s noticeably different from their store bought counterparts. Other, more honest reasons include: it’s fun, and why not?
However, none of these reasons were adequately explained to the cute guy at the Apple Store who was fixing my computer, and while he was trying to get my iPhoto to stop doing weird things, happened to see all of my pictures of…pickles. Lots of close-ups of pickles and brine and chopped cucumbers. It probably didn’t help my case that the next most recent uploads were of Yiddishfest 2012 (a two hour klezmer festival in Central Park) and New York’s Gay Pride Parade. So to Mr. Genius Bar, my photo library looked something like this:
Which just goes to show that no one will ever know you like the random strangers who have complete access to your computer.
Anyway…let’s talk pickles, shall we?
- 3 pickling (kirby) cucumbers
- 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp mustard seed
- 1/2 tbsp celery seed
Step 1: Slice your cucumbers and onions. The cucumber slices can vary in thickness, depending on how crunchy you like your pickles, but I found that the onions taste best when they’re really thin.
Step 2: Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow dish. Cover and chill for an hour and a half.
Step 3: Rinse cucumbers thoroughly under cold water, drain, and return to dish. Add onions.
Step 4: In a medium sized saucepan, combine sugars, vinegars, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a simmer, then stir until the sugar dissolves.
Step 5: Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers and onions. Let stand on the at room temperature for one hour.
Step 6: Transfer to your container of choice (I happened to find this milk jug-type thing in a seldom-used cabinet). Refrigerate for 2 hours, then dig in! The pickles can be stored for up to two weeks.
These babies can of course be eaten straight out of the jar, but I love putting them in sandwiches. My new go-to lunch: whole wheat pita, a layer of honey mustard, a leaf of lettuce, smoked turkey cold cuts, and homemade pickles. A jar of pickles also makes an easy and unusual gift — and if you have Jewish grandparents, they’re sure to be a hit.