Bread and Butter Pickles are crunchy, sweet and tangy. Homemade pickles are easy to make and delicious enjoyed with sandwiches, burgers or as a snack. If you are a pickle lover, you’ll love old-fashioned bread and butter pickles – just like grandma used to make!
This bread and butter pickle recipe uses basic pantry ingredients, pickling cucumbers, bell peppers, onions and spices. Sealed jars will last up to 18-months on pantry shelves.
You’ll find detailed step images and a video showing you how to make bread and butter pickles below! This old-fashioned bread and butter pickles recipe has been in our family for over 100 years!
Making homemade pickles is pretty easy. Don’t fret- it’s simple to make Bread and Butter Pickles. This canning recipe comes from my great-grandmother’s farm kitchen and has been passed down for generations.
Why this recipe works
- Made with pantry ingredients – Simple to find ingredients readily available at most grocery stores.
- Flavor – Creates a flavorful, crispy bread and butter pickles with only a few ingredients.
- Control the ingredients – Making homemade pickles free of preservatives and any additives.
- Stock your pantry – Sealed with jars of homemade pickles that will last up to 18-months.
- Surplus of cucumbers – The perfect home canning recipe for using a surplus of cucumbers.
What you’ll need
- Pickling cucumbers – They are a smaller cucumbers with thicker skin and less seeds. Thicker skin helps keep them crispy through the canning process. (Grow them yourself or find them at your local farmers market throughout the summer!)
- Bell Peppers – In this old-fashioned pickle recipe we love combining red and green bell peppers.
- Yellow or white onions – Use whatever type of onions you want. We chop them, but you can also just slice.
- Pickling or Kosher salt – This is an important ingredient to canning pickles. Salt also helps draw the excess water out of pickling cucumbers, giving you a crisp pickle.
- White vinegar – Vinegar creates the perfect flavor combination for the brine for bread and butter pickles.
- Sugar – Adds just the right amount of sweetness to this pickle recipe.
- Cloves, celery seed, mustard seeds and turmeric – Adds a pop of spice to these pickles.
- Mason jars – Easily locate them at Tractor Supply stores, Walmart and small independent hardware stores.
- Water bath canner – This large enamelware pot with tools will last a life time of canning. Order it here! You will need to water bath pickles to make shelf stable.
- Jar lifter – This is my favorite Ball jar lifter. It’s heavy duty built and rubber helps grip the canning jars well. You’ll use this to place jars into the water bath canner and remove after they are done.
We grow our own pickling cucumbers, but you can also buy pickling cucumbers at local farmers markets.
How to make Bread and Butter Pickles
- Prep ingredients – Wash pickling cucumbers and cut into ¼-inch slices. Slice onions in half, remove the skin and cut into small pieces. Cut red and green bell peppers into small pieces.
- Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers with salt – Place the salt, cucumber slices, onion, and bell peppers in a food-safe bucket. Use your hand to stir the mixture so the salt is evenly distributed.
- Let sit with ice – Put a clean kitchen towel on top of the cucumbers, with few inches of ice on the bucket. Let sit for 3-4 hours in a cool place. (Salt, along with the ice help the cucumbers remove excess water so pickles will remain crisp when canned.)
- Drain water from cucumbers -Drain the cucumbers and set aside.
- Make the brine – In a large pot, combine vinegar, sugar, ground cloves, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric. Bring to a boil and stir with a spoon to combine ingredients. (Don’t add the cucumber mixture to the brine or it will make pickles soggy!)
- Prepare water bath canner and jars – Prepare the boiling water canner. Heat the jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in soapy water and rinse well, set aside. Set bands aside.
- Add to jars– Place equal amounts of cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers into each hot jar. Ladle hot pickling brine over top of cucumbers, leaving ½-inch headspace.
- Seal jars – Wipe the rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Center the lids on jars. Apply the bands to fingertip tight.
- Hot water bath – Process jars in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
- Cool and store jars – Remove the jars with a jar lifter and allow to cool completely on the counter for 24 hours. Wash jars with damp kitchen cloth and remove bands to store.
- Check if jars are sealed – Let the jars cool and the lids will begin to make a “pinging” sound as they seal. The lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.
For brining pickles, I use a food safe 5-gallon bucket. Often times you can pick one up from a bakery. But, if you cannot find one use these food safe plastic bags to line a 5-gallon bucket.
Making homemade pickles isn’t overly complicated. And only requires a few simple ingredients, glass canning jars, and a large pot to water bath jars.
Don’t be nervous if you’ve never canned- it’s really easy! A cookbook on home canning that I highly recommend is from Ball Canning. Order it here!
Each year, we plant a small vegetable garden and grow our own pickling cucumbers. As you can see, in the picture above, we train the vines to grow up the lattice.
This keeps the cucumbers up off the ground, so they grow nicely, take up less space, and keep them in better shape as they mature. Pickling cucumbers will also have less chance of disease when grown this way.
It’s a summer tradition in our household to make homemade Bread and Butter Pickles. And I love Pickled Peppers too! These old-fashioned bread and butter pickles are a must-have to our pantry shelves. We use them to barter with other farms and neighbors, plus enjoy plenty ourselves! (They are delicious with a sandwich or cheeseburger!)
Bread and Butter Pickles
It is said that these delicious pickles got their name because during the Great Depression, they were an inexpensive staple in households. People used them in sandwiches of Bread and Butter because that’s what they could afford. Many things during that time were rationed too, so they made many things from scratch.
Best Varieties of Cucumbers for Making Pickles
Canning Bread and Butter Pickles is relatively easy. While you can certainly use different kinds of cucumbers, pickling cucumbers are the best. They have a thicker skin and are small in size, therefore have less seeds. They can withstand the very hot brine and still come out crunchy.
We use a combination of ground cloves, celery seed, mustard seeds and turmeric for this bread and butter pickle recipe. They blend perfectly for this recipe.
Dill pickles use a herb called Dill and have less sugar, making them a little more tart. Old-fashioned bread and butter pickles use a blend of spices, sugar and vinegar making them have a unique sweet and tangy flavor.
Once the jars of homemade pickles are sealed, store them in a cool, dry place for up to 18 months or so. Although, I highly doubt they will last that long!
More Homemade Canning Recipes
Be sure and check out Spicy Dill Pickles from Delicious Table.
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Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
Bread and Butter Pickles
- 25 to 30 pickling cucumbers, sliced ¼-inch thick
- ½ cup pickling or kosher salt
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1 large green bell pepper diced
- 1 large red bell pepper diced
- 7 cups white vinegar
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
Bread and Butter Pickles
- In a 5-gallon food-grade bucket, combine the sliced cucumbers, salt, onion, and bell peppers. Stir so the salt is evenly distributed. Cover the cucumber mixture with a clean kitchen towel or tea towel, and place a few inches of ice on top of the towel. Allow to sit for 3-4 hours in a cool place.
- Drain the vegetables and set aside. Make the brine by bringing the vinegar, sugar, cloves, mustard seeds, celery seed, and turmeric to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare a boiling water canner. Heat the jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash the lids with hot soapy water. Set bands aside.
- Place an equal amount of cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers into each hot jar. Press down the mixture, as it will rise when you pour in the brine.
- Use a wide-mouth funnel, ladle hot pickling liquid over top of the cucumbers, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Center the lids on the jars. Apply the bands until the fit is fingertip tight.
- Process jars in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove the jars and allow to cool completely on the counter for 24 hours. Check the lids for seal. The lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.
- For best flavor, let stand for 3-4 weeks before enjoying. Store the jars in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. If a jar doesn’t seal, store in the refrigerator and use within 3 months.
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