Cukes & Zukes.
…or bread and butter pickles….I do about 80% pickling cucumbers and the balance is zucchini because they are everywhere in the summer. This recipe is the essentially the variation from the Ball Complete book of Home Preserving which if you are doing any measure of canning or pickling would be of endless value. This is the British variation which swaps out, in equal measure, white vinegar and white sugar with cider vinegar and brown sugar. The taste will be sharper if you go the traditional route. Regarding the brining spices you can go with this variation here or purchase a pickling spice. The bay leaf adds a crispy bite to the final pickle so if you like the crunch keep the bay leaf. And that brine makes an excellent addition to cocktails especially a dirty martini.
You can scale this down or make a whole lot of pickles and skip the canning process as when done they will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Bread & Butter Pickles
Makes about five pints
10 cups pickling cucumbers sliced into 1/4″ slices (trimmed of any blemishes, ends discarded)*
4 medium white onions, sliced thinly into rings
1/2 cup pickling or canning salt (see note below for kosher salt)**
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 dried bay leaves coarsely crumbled
Fresh dill about 1 sprig per jar
At least two hours ahead in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl combine in alternating layers cucumbers/zucchini, onions and salt. Mix well. Let stand for two hours and up to four hours. This process removes excess water which leads to good texture. After it’s been sitting for that period rinse with cool water in a colander to remove the salt.
While the vegetables are sitting prepare canner, jars and lids for processing. This part I am assuming you know how to do if not see this over at the Ball website. Note I do the dishwasher technique for sterilization in pickling but not for jam. I haven’t lost any friends or family yet. I also experimented via a recommendation of placing washed jars on a cookie sheet in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes. Leave them in there to keep warm.
Put a large pot on the stove and combine vinegar, sugar and spices. bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add vegetables and return to a boil.
Fill jars and process. My method–Using a ladle for the vegetables I first add fresh dill to the jar, then the cooked vegetables, then a little more dill, THEN I add top off with additional brine, leaving about a 1/4″ head space before placing the two-part lid.
If there’s not quite enough for a jar place in glass or ceramic storage bowl and pop in the fridge. The flavor improves over a few weeks but after a week–so good.
*Upon selecting your cukes keep in mind the presentation of your sliced cucumber–I like a medium to small width for a pickle. Also, if you want to do the zucchini just replace 2 cups of cukes with the zukes.
**Kosher substitute = 1 1/2 cups flaked kosher slat equals 1 cup canning or pickling salt. In this recipe you’ll need 3/4 cup of kosher salt.