I admit I fell in love with bread & butter pickles because of their name; had they been labeled “thin and floppy sliced pickles” I might not have been as drawn to them. The reference to bread and butter made me curious – did they go with bread and butter? Are they as mellow as bread and butter? I tried eating them atop bread and butter once, treating them like slices of jam. Mostly I loved them for their tangy sweetness; as a kid, I’d stick a fork in the jar and impale several layers, then steal a sip of the brine as a chaser.
Pickle brine is perhaps the most underutilized ingredient out there – once the pickles are gone, the brine can be turned into vinaigrette, and I just recently learned that Earls adds a splash of pickle brine to their Caesars, which is perhaps why they are the very best ever.
Those who make their own pickles tend to default to dill – there’s nothing wrong with a snap-to-attention sour pickle soldier, but I like them sweet-tart and easy to put on a burger or sandwich.
I’ve pickled many things, but never went the traditional bread and butter route, so after bringing home a bag of tiny, lumpy pickling cukes from the farmers’ market, I went to Marisa to hold my hand. She instructed (as did others) to douse the sliced wee cucumbers (along with peppers and onions) in coarse salt to draw out extra moisture, then rinse and drain them. Some add ice cubes too; with a freezer held shut by tape, we have had no room for ice all summer.
You then make a simple brine out of sugar and apple cider vinegar, dump in the cucumbers and some pickling spice, and boil the lot for a minute or two. Divvy into jars, and voila – you just made your own pickles. Oh yes you did!