Friday, October 30, 2009


I was asked recently my motivation for preserving food.  This summer, I went a little crazy with pickling, canning, dehydrating and making jam.  Growing up, my family lived in a house that had several peach, pear and apple trees along with a very large garden.  My mother canned/froze/preserved everything.  I did not eat peaches for years because of the memories of being covered in peach fuzz from helping her freeze them.  We knew the cupboards were almost bare when mom would break out the apple jelly for our sandwiches (I never liked apple jelly).   There really isn't any economic reason to can these days since if you add up the ingredients and time, it's cheaper to buy pickles in the store.  Preserving food is in my genes, I guess.

There was a message on the local listserv from a woman cleaning out her parent's house and she was giving away all their old glass canning jars.  Lucky for me, I was the first to respond so there are now dozens of beautiful old glass Kerr, Atlas and E-Z jars, along with zinc lids, and the canning pot,  in my basement.  Unfortunately, it is no longer recommended that one use these types of jars for canning.

 The book that I used for most of  the pickles was the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

According to, bread and butter pickles are named such because during the Depression, they were as regular a part of a diet as bread and butter. The difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles is just a few ingredients. Sweet pickles use cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a vinegar-sugar brine. Bread and butter pickles are made with turmeric. mustard, and onion in a vinegar-sugar brine.

Here is the recipe for the Bread and Butter Pickles

Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles - makes about 5 pint jars

10 cups sliced trimmed pickling cucumbers (I planted Alibi pickling cukes but I think I threw in some regular ones too)
 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pickling salt (I used kosher but have since obtained pickling salt)
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbps mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground turmeric

1.  In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine cukes, onions and salt.  Mix well, cover with cold water and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.  Transfer to a colander placed over a sink, rinse with cool running water and drain well.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3.  In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Stir in vegetables and return to a boil.

4.  Pack vegetables into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot liquid.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and cool 24 hours and store.


  1. To me preserving is worth it - regardless of price - - because then I know exactly what I've got. I know what I preserved, how it was grown, and what I preserved it with.

    I am the fruit freezer in the family - DH freezes the tomatoes (I didn't like the taste when he canned) and he pickles lots of things - - asparagus, greenbeans, and banana peppers (besides cukes).


  2. Mmmm, I LOVE bread & butter pickles. I'm looking for something to put in the bed the previous owner has full of peppers. We are not big pepper fans and they have also proven hard to give away. So next year the plan is for 1 or 2 plants, but to use that bed for something else. This may be a good option.

  3. I only planted 3 plants, I think, of Allibi and it was very prolific. I made several batches of bread and butter, dill garlic, and rosemary sage refrigerator pickles.