August 12, 2010

Bread & Butter Pickles with Dad {Webisode #36}

What’s Going on Today: Send daughter out for the morning with babysitter. Set up yearly pickling project with Dad.

Naptime Goals: Process pickles in the water bath after a whole morning spent pickling.

Tonight’s Menu: Mom’s cooking!

Parenting Lesson of the Day: Always save an extra pint jar for the kids to play with!

Most days I cook during naptime and have the rest of the day to go about life with a toddler. But last week in Cooperstown I deviated from this routine. Once a year my Dad and I set aside a morning to make my grandmother’s famous recipe for Bread & Butter pickles. It’s not exactly a difficult recipe, but pickling takes times and can’t be rushed.

Bread and Butter Pickles

I set my daughter up for the morning with an awesome babysitter, Helen. Armed with ample supplies of chalk, watercolors and donut money I knew they’d be just fine. Then, my Dad and I set to work. As you’ll see, making these pickles is not complicated. It just requires attention to detail – especially when operating the automatic KitchenAid chopper – and patience. We pulled together the sliced pickle mixture in about half and hour, then they had to sit for three in the ice and salt bath. (I used the 2.5 hr break in the action to take a nice long jog.) After we rinsed and drained the pickle mixture we made the brew, added the pickles and processed the jars in the waterbath.

This recipe was handed down from my grandmother and is very sentimental. Her notebook of canning instructions and recipes for family food contain many cherished memories and notes. My father remembers eating most of it as a child and I, in turn, hope my daughter will as well. Though her food wasn’t terribly unique – she certainly didn’t invent Bread & Butter pickles – they are things she made every year for my father and he, in turn, for us.


Grandma Pat’s Bread & Butter Pickles

Makes about 8 pints


3 green peppers
6 medium yellow onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ peck of small cucumbers
1 c. Kosher Salt
1 bag ice
5 c. granulated sugar
3 c. cider vinegar
1 ½ t. tumeric
1 ½ t. celery seed
2 T. mustard seed
8 sterilized pint jars
8 sterilized lids and rims


  1. Wash and rinse the cucumbers. Slice them very thin, preferably with a KitchenAid mixer attachment or a mandolin. Slice the green peppers, onions and garlic as well. Combine with cucumbers in a large container or pot. Pour in the Kosher salt and mix it well with your hands. Pour the ice on top of the cucumbers and let rest for at least 3 hours. The purpose of this is to drain the cucumbers of excessive amounts of water and help them get cool and crisp.
  2. After 3 hours, pour the water out of the containers and rinse the cucumbers in clean water. Squeeze them dry in a kitchen towel or three. Set aside.
  3. In a very large pot over medium heat add the sugar, vinegar, tumeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Then, add the pickles and bring mixture to a boil. This will take a while so be patient.
  4. Once water has reached a boil turn off the heat. Ladle mixture into sterilized jars, leaving 1″ at the top, and close with lids and rims. Only close the jar as much as you can tighten it with your hand, do not force it. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  5. Set jars aside in a cool, dry place away from any drafts and cover with kitchen towels. Allow to rest for 24 hours without moving until seal forms.

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