Americans take great pride in their pickles, and produce so many different varieties. There isn’t the snobbery that you find towards pickles here in Britain. I first tasted bread and butter pickles in Kentucky when visiting family. We eat them in sandwiches made with the leftover ham from Thanksgiving – really juicy ham, thickly sliced. They are also really good in a burger.
What differentiates bread and butter pickles from other varieties is that they are slightly sweet and are ‘chipped’ into these thick slices. The recipe here is based on the ones we eat in Kentucky, which uses mustard seed and celery seed. I have added a bit of garlic to the pickle, not traditional, but it gives a wonderful flavour, besides there is no exact recipe. This is a quick and easy marinated pickle to be eaten fresh, say within two weeks, while they are still bright green and crunchy. I would keep them in the refrigerator.
It’s not always easy to find pickling cucumbers in Britain. I use the Persian cucumbers you can find in middle eastern shops. Make sure to get really fresh and firm ones. I use a crinkle cutter as it looks authentic as well as pretty. If you find fresh young garlic this is a lovely addition.
This makes enough to fill a 1 litre jar.
500g pickling cucumbers (roughly 6 pickling cucumbers 15cm long)
15g sea salt
500ml cider vinegar
15g yellow mustard seed
5g celery seed
150g castor sugar
1 large clove of fresh garlic, thinly sliced.
Wash the cucumbers. Slice them in to half centimetre thick pieces. I use a crinkle cutter as it looks pretty. Put them in a bowl and toss with the salt. Leave for 1 – 2 hours. Toss occasionally to make sure all vegetables are salted well.
Now transfer the cucumbers to a clean and sterilised jar, leaving the residual cucumber juices in the bowl.
In a pot slowly bring to boiling point the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this hot liquor over the cucumbers, making sure it comes right up to the top to cover them and seal.
You can eat these almost immediately – leave to cool completely before.