A couple of years ago, a friend sent me a jar of pickles specific to his little area in Mississippi. I worried that I’d love them but wouldn’t have access to them. And then I’d be sad. And that’s exactly what happened.
These pickles were as sweet as bread-and-butter pickles, crunchy as could be and they had a surprise – a kick in the form of hot peppers. Sweet and spicy all in one crunchy pickle. I was addicted so, I figured out how to make these sweet-and-spicy pickles for myself.
The process is easy: cut a dried pepper in half (the kind of hot pepper that’s about the size of your pinkie finger) and drop it into a jar of store-bought sweet pickles. And … you’re done.
I make my own bread-and-butter pickles because I love the recipe and I think you will, too. I keep half of the jars plain old bread-and-butter pickles, then to the other half I add my hot peppers so I have a mixture of both sweet and sweet-and-spicy pickles in my fridge.
I also use whatever extra vegetables I have in my garden for making the pickles. Too many zucchini? Use those in this pickle recipe. Too many green beans? Use those too.
It’s a great recipe for using up summer produce that you might just be getting sick of eating.
Classic Bread and Butter Pickle Recipe
(For 16 or so pint jars; halve the recipe for 8 pint jars.)
5 lb of “stuff” (cucumbers, zucchini, green beans … whatever)
2 onions (sliced)
1/4 cup salt (pickling, kosher or otherwise)
3 cups cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon turmeric
16-32 small, dried hot chili peppers cut in half (optional)
- Slice your cucumbers. I like mine fairly thick – almost 1/4″.
- Combine your sliced cucumbers and onions in a bowl. Sprinkle with the ¼ cup of salt and toss. Mix in a tray of ice cubes and let sit for three hours. (This draws out the moisture from the cucumbers so they turn out crisper.)
- Rinse, rinse, rinse your cucumbers! Soak them in water and then rinse them again. You want to get rid of as much salt as possible; otherwise your pickles will taste too salty.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, cloves and turmeric in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add your cucumber/onion mixture to the pot and return to the boil.
- Stuff your pickles into sterilized jars and pour the liquid over them until covered.
- If you want spicy pickles, this is the time to add your hot peppers. Per 500ml jar, add one for mildly hot pickles, two for hot pickles and three for dare-you-to-try-them pickles.
- Store in the fridge until you want to eat them. Try to wait a day or two; otherwise, they won’t have that great bread-and-butter pickle flavor.
Text and photos by Karen Bertelsen
Karen Bertelsen is a Gemini Award nominated television host who has appeared on some of Canada's major networks including HGTV, W Network, Slice and MuchMoreMusic. She started the blog The Art of Doing Stuff (www.theartofdoingstuff.com) as a creative outlet for her writing and endless home projects. The Art of Doing Stuff now receives over half a million views per month and has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Style at Home and Canadian Gardening magazines.