Shirley’s Bread & Butter Pickles

I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t exclaim “where did you get those pickles!” when I serve these crisp slices. I love to name the source of my favorite recipes on my cards and obviously I received this recipe from my good friend, Shirley! Equally at home with an elegant hors d’oeuvres course or a backyard BBQ, these easy pickles are always a crowd pleaser. There’s no canning involved, so if you can chop, stir and pour, you can make these!

Once we start picking pickling cucumbers from our farm in Abbotsford, we typically have until mid-August until the season runs out. The reason I’m telling you this is because once the season ends and rain sets in, we find that a lot of our guests are looking for ways to eat locally during those long winter months, but at that point there just isn’t quite as many options. But this year will be different for you because you’ll have a jar of your own homemade pickles, made from Lepp Farm grown cukes!

Ingredients

Brine:
4 cups vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
½ cup pickling salt *

*Pickling salt is pure salt, without any added iodine or anti-caking agents found in table salt, which can turn your pickles dark or cloudy.  You can also use kosher salt for pickling but  certain varieties may contain anti-caking agents.  

For the Jar:
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 sliced onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled
a bunch of dill – a good fistful, preferably with flowers
4 lbs large pickling cucumbers, sliced into approximately 5 mm thick slices**
One 4 litre container, I love the look of a glass or ceramic container filled with pickles in my fridge!

**Best done on a mandolin; a food processor usually doesn’t have such a thick setting, but I’ve done them thinner on my processor when I was in a hurry. I have  also used mini hothouse cucumbers with good success when fresh field cucumbers aren’t available

Method
  1. Bring brine to a boil by mixing vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a large pot. In the bottom of 4 litre container, put sliced onion, garlic cloves, dill, mustard seed and celery seed and fill the container with sliced cucumbers, pressing down firmly to get as many cucumbers into the jar as possible.
  2. Slowly pour hot brine over, to cover. As the cucumbers soften, you may top up the container with more sliced cucumbers, you just need to ensure the cucumbers are always submerged in the liquid.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 1 week before enjoying. Canning experts would say they need to be consumed within three months, however, I’ve enjoyed mine over the course of a whole year. As long as they’re kept refrigerated and the cucumbers are covered in brine I haven’t noticed any decrease in quality.