Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles are one of my favourite condiments. Easy to prepare, inexpensive too, this is a great recipe to prepare as gifts for friends or to stock your pantry for the winter months ahead.
I love anything pickled! I love the process and the labour that goes into making my own pickled preserves at home. Sure, we buy pickled jars of this and that from time to time just like everyone else, but there’s just something extremely satisfying about putting the work in oneself.
The only downside of canning for me is that John.e and McKenna don’t care much for pickled foods. You might think that it would be favourable to me, since I would have all of these Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles to myself, but you see, I find immense pleasure in sharing food with loved ones. So, when I put so much work into preparing a small pantry stocked with canned items, I find it rather disappointing that I’m the only one to marvel at their deliciousness.
On the bright side, I did get to share these pickles with Linda, one of our friends in our building. She’s always super appreciative of jams, jellies, pickles, and preserves. And, even though I always look forward to the email she sends with her thoughts and compliments, it’s the fact that she brings back the jars that makes me happier. I re-use my mason jars all the time. And, since I can so much, I hate having to replace the jars, because I’ve given so many away.
So, let me tell you about Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles. Bread-and-butter pickles are a marinated pickle produced with sliced cucumbers (or in this case, zucchini) in a solution of vinegar, sugar and spices which may be processed either by canning or simply chilled as refrigerator pickles.
The origin of the name and the spread of their popularity in attributed to Omar and Cora Fanning, a pair of Illinois cucumber farmers who started selling sweet and sour pickles in the 1920s and filed for the trademark “Fanning’s Bread and Butter Pickles” in 1923.
The story attached to the name is that the Fanning’s survived rough years by making the pickles with their surplus of undersized cucumbers and used them to barter with their grocer for staples such as bread and butter.
Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles are one of my favourite homemade pickles and this particular recipe is low in sugar, but you can double the sugar content is you’re looking for a sweeter pickle. I tend to favour Bread and Butter pickles that are more vinegary.
The sugar, along with the vinegar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds, create a complex brine that is perfect for zucchini pickles. And, I love the addition of the thinly sliced onions, and diced red peppers. Not only do these add flavour, but colour contrast as well.
Typically, a bread and butter pickle recipe will include a clove or two of crushed garlic. I refuse to add garlic to my pickle recipes. I have made pickles before – back in my early canning days – and have always been put off by the strong pungency of the raw garlic. I have found that the garlic takes over the entire flavour profile and I’m left with an unsatisfactory result. I encourage you to leave the garlic out if you’re following this recipe.
Now, I can just eat these pickles from the jar, but there’s more to bread and butter pickles. Most of us will add pickles to our burgers or our sandwiches, but you can do more with bread and butter pickles that just use them as a condiment. You can use them as an ingredient too.
Try adding about half a cup of the pickles (without the liquid) to your food processor. Add in eight ounces of cream cheese and a dash of ground black pepper. Pulse until combined. Spread this mixture onto wraps and top with thin slices of roast beef. Roll tightly and slice into 1/2 inch slices. You’ve got some crazy, delicious Roast Beef Cream Cheese Roll-ups!
Cut up the pickles and onions and add them to your favourite potato salad recipe. Serve them with crackers and cheese for a simple and rustic snack. Appetizers are a perfect option for pickle use.
Here’s an idea: slice a baguette super thin. Smear each slice with hummus or cream cheese. Lay thin slices of Polish sausage, salami, or pepperoni on top. Lay a slice of pickle on top of each. Next, add a cherry tomato and a few sprigs of fresh dill. You have very tasty and budget-friendly appetizer!
Leave me a note, Dear Reader, and let me know how you like to serve your Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles!
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Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- Begin by sterilizing 4 500ml jars. To sterilize your jars, wash the jars well in hot, soapy water. Rinse the soap off in hot running water and place the clean jars into a large pot of water. Be sure that the jars are fully submerged right side up. Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the jars to sit in the water until the water comes to a boil. Once the water is boiling, time the jars for at least 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to simmer and leave the jars in the pot until you're ready to use. When removing the jars, avoid contact with the inside of the jar when removing it from the pot or when filling it with the ingredients. To sterilize the seals and lids, wash them as you did the jars, and boil water in your kettle. Pour the boiled water into a clean bowl and drop the seals and lids into the water. Be sure the lids and seals and completely submerged.
- Next, in a sauce pan, combine the vinegar and honey. Over medium heat, stir until the honey has dissolved and the mixture is steaming.
- Add the mustard seeds, celery seeds, cumin, and salt. Bring this mixture to a boil.
- Add the zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion to the brine. Stir to combine and boil together for 5 minutes. Stay close by and don't let the pot bubble over - this liquid has to be saved and used later.
- Remove the jars from the pot of water, using a jar lifter. Using a canning funnel, fill each jar as evenly as possible with the vegetable mixture. Top each jar off with ladles of the brine until 1/2 inch of head space remains.
- Use a chop stick to move the veggies around; this will help to rid the jar of air bubbles. Top up the jars with more brine if needed.
- Add a seal and a lid. Tighten the lid until just snug - don't screw the lid on really tight.
- Using a jar lifter, lower the jars into the original pot of simmering water. Be sure the water is covering the jars by at least an inch. Turn the heat up to medium-high and once the water is at a boil, allow the jars to sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the water and set aside. About 30 minutes or so into the cooling time, the jars will making a popping sound. This sound is a result of the air contracting inside the jar which pulls the ring down creating a vacuum seal. You will note that the center of the lid will have been pulled down. When the jars are cooled, gently push down on the center of the lid. If the lid pushes down, the jar did not seal properly. Store that particular jar in your refrigerator and eat first. The rest of the jars can be wiped down with a moist towel, the lids re-tightened by hand, and labeled for storage.
- These pickles are best if left to sit for at least 7 days before opening. Store in a dark, cool cabinet for up to 12 months.
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