These old-fashioned bread and butter pickles have a crisp texture and a balanced sweet and sour flavor. The slightly sweet tangy flavor makes them perfect for topping your favorite burgers and sandwiches.
“I love pickles!” my husband said as I planned the garden soon after moving to our property.
With this in mind, I planned on growing a bunch of pickling cucumbers. I was not a fan of pickles, so normally I grew only a few cucumber plants to eat fresh and in salads. However, this was the year I acquired a lot of canning jars, and I was determined to fill each one with garden grown goodness.
Cucumbers ended up exceeding my expectations that year and were my most prolific producers. I barely kept up with processing them into endless batches of pickles. I made bread and butter pickles, kosher dill pickle spears and sweet pickle relish from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
Soon my shelves were filled with jars and jars of pickles. We had so many pickles that I began asking my husband if he wanted pickles with almost meal. I gave jars of pickles and relish away and still had shelves full years later.
Thankfully, I learned my lesson and now only plant just a few cucumber plants to provide enough for fresh eating and a few batches of canned pickles and relish.
I have never been a big fan of pickles until I tried this recipe from a dear friend who was like a Granny to many. I call this recipe Granny’s Bread and Butter Pickles in her honor.
Tips for Canning Bread & Butter Pickles
These old-fashioned bread and butter pickles are made from cucumbers, onions and pickling spices. They are tangy, sweet, and crunchy—a perfect addition to any sandwich, hamburger, or hot dog. Here are tips for home canning bread and butter pickles:
Select crisp, freshly harvested pickling cucumbers
Pickling cucumbers are short, thin skinned cucumbers that are primarily used for processing or pickling. Skip the waxed cucumbers at the grocery store. The wax prevents the pickling liquid from penetrating the cucumber.
Use pickling salt
Table salt contains iodine and anti-caking agents that can darken pickles and cause cloudiness in your jars. Instead, use pickling salt, which is also called canning salt.
Use commercial vinegar with at least 5% acidity
- Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. It will darken your pickles slightly, but adds a nice flavor.
- White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. Choose an organic brand to avoid genetically modified corn.
Steps for Canning Pickles
If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making and canning bread and butter pickles:
Step 1: Gather your canning equipment
- Water bath canner with canning rack
- 5 pint sized canning jars
- Lids and bands (new lids for each jar, bands can be reused)
- Canning tools: jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large sauce pot, large bowl, small pot, towels, knife, and a cutting board
Step 2: Prepare your cucumbers and onions
Wash cucumbers well under running water and cut into 1/4-inch slices discarding ends. Peel onion and slice thinly.
Combine the cucumber and onions a large bowl. Scatter the canning salt over the top, cover with the ice and water, and let stand for about 3 hours.
Step 3: Prepare your canning equipment
Wash your jars, lids, bands, and canning tools in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, and set the lids, bands, and tools aside to air dry until you are ready to use them.
Setup your water bath canner with the canning rack on a large burner of your stove. Place the jars upright in the canner, and add water to cover. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep the jars hot until you are ready to fill them.
Step 4: Make the pickling brine
In a large pot, combine sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, ground turmeric, peppercorns, and vinegar. Heat just to a boil.
Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onions under fresh water. Add the drained cucumber and onion slices to the pot of pickling brine and return to boil. Reduce heat and keep warm as you fill your jars.
Step 5: Can the pickles
Lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Use the jar lifter to remove a hot jar from the canner, drain, and place on the towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
Place the canning funnel on the jar, and add the warm pickles and brine to the jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Run the bubble popper through the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Make sure all the pickles are submerged under the brine. Remove any that stick out, and adjust the headspace again if needed.
Wipe the rim with a damp towel to remove residue. Center a lid on the jar, place the band over the lid, and screw it on until fingertip tight. Place the jar back into the canner, and repeat with the rest of the jars.
Adjust the water level so it is covering the jars by several inches, bring the pot to a boil, and process the jars for the times indicated in the recipe below.
Let the jars cool, test the seals, label and date the jars, and store the canned pickles in a cool, dark location. Let the pickles stand for about 4 weeks to develop flavor.
Granny's Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
- 3 pounds pickling cucumbers
- 1 pound onions
- 1/4 cup canning or pickling salt
- 2 quarts crushed ice or ice cubes and water
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar 5% acidity (or white vinegar)
Prepare your cucumbers and onions:
- Wash cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch slices discarding ends. Peel and thinly slice onions. Combine sliced cucumber and onions a large bowl.
- Sprinkle canning salt over the top of the cucumbers and onions, cover with ice and water, and let stand for 3 hours.
Prepare your canning equipment:
- Wash your jars, lids, screw bands, and canning tools in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly to remove all suds. Set aside to air dry on a clean kitchen towel.
- Place the jar rack into water bath canner, place jars in the canner, and add water to cover. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep the jars hot.
Make your bread and butter pickles
- In a large pot, combine sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, ground turmeric, peppercorns, and vinegar. Heat just to a boil.
- Drain and rinse the cucumber and onions under fresh water. Add the drained cucumber and onion slices to the large pot and return to boil. Reduce heat and keep warm as you fill your jars.
Can your bread and butter pickles
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use the jar lifter to remove a hot jar from the canner, drain, and place on the towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
- Use your canning funnel and ladle to pack the hot cucumbers and onions loosely into the jar. Ladle the hot brine over the pickles, and maintaining a 1/2 inch headspace.
- Run the bubble popper through the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Make sure all the pickles are submerged under the brine. Remove any that stick out, and adjust the headspace again if needed.
- Wipe the rim to remove any residue, center a lid on the jar, and screw on a band until it is fingertip tight. Use your jar lifter to place the jar back into the canner, and repeat with the remaining jars.
- Once all the jars are in canner, adjust the water level so it is 2 inches above the jar tops.
- Cover the canner and bring to boil over high heat. Once water boils vigorously, continue boiling and process pickles for 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet. Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary (See Note).
- When processing time is complete, turn off heat, remove the cover, and allow the canner to cool down and settle for about 5 minutes.
- Spread a dry kitchen towel on the counter. Remove the cover by tilting lid away from you so that steam does not burn your face.
- Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from canner and place on the towel. Keep the jars upright, and don't tighten bands or check the seals yet. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 12 to 24-hours to cool.
- After 12 to 24-hours, check to be sure jar lids have sealed by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate jar and use up within a week.
- Remove the screw on bands and wash the jars. Label and date the jars. Store in a cool, dark location. Allow 4-5 weeks for the pickles to develop their flavor. Use within a year. Yields about 5 pints depending on the size of your cucumbers.
This recipe was originally published July 5, 2015. It has been reviewed and updated with additional information and new photos.
If you know someone who doesn’t like pickles, let them taste these pickles. Granny’s Bread & Butter Pickles are so sweet that it may just convert them into a pickle lover too.
- USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
- Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
- Storing Home Canned Goods – National Center for Home Preservation
- Causes and Possible Solutions for Problems with Canned Foods – National Center for Home Preservation
You May Also Like These Canning Recipes:
- Spiced Apple Jelly Recipe with No Added Pectin
- How to Can Carrots for Food Storage
- Homemade Applesauce for Canning
- Crabapple Jelly with No Added Pectin
- Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Home Canning
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Tina Machael says
I love this recipe
I have a ? I forgot to add the cucumbers to the brine and bring to a boil will it be ok? I have done 3 batches and don’t want to waste them
©Rachel Arsenault says
Tina, I’m thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying the pickle recipe! As for your question, I think your jars should be alright as long as you followed the recipe. However, it’s worth noting that adding cool contents to hot jars can cause thermal shock, which can result in broken jars. To avoid this, the recipe instructs to add the cucumbers to the brine and heat them up before placing them in the jars. If you plan to can more pickles in the future, I recommend following the recipe as closely as possible to ensure the best results. Happy pickling!
Lucy Munro says
Was looking for a recipe like my mom used to make and I Found it! Delicious!
Karen Rolfes says
I was wondering when you make the bread and butter pickles do you just leave the peppercorn whole. Or do you crush them.
©Rachel Arsenault says
Karen, Yes, leave the peppercorn whole.
Are these able to be made as refrigerator pickles?
©Rachel Arsenault says
Tammy, Sure, you can use this recipe for refrigerator pickles. However, since the jars are not heat processed after filling, I suggest boiling them first for 10 minutes to help kill microorganisms that may be present. You can learn more in this article on How to Make Refrigerator Pickles.
Barbara B says
I’m in the process of using this recipe – jars are in the water bath boiling away. I made a half batch using exactly one half of the ingredients listed. I used half pint jars because I want to share them with others and not overwhelm anyone with a large amount. It made five half-pints. But I needed a bit more than one cup of brine in addition to the recipe to cover the cukes. I will put the ‘dry’ jar that I didn’t process in the refrigerator for a couple days and hope that boiling them in the brine gives them a good flavor. And one jar the brine didn’t completely cover the cukes, but I hope that will do the trick. I will wait to see if all lids pop down. I’m looking forward to trying these in four to five weeks. My first attempt at bread and butter after many years of dill pickles. After a five minute rest in the canner, they all popped immediately when I removed them. I live at 5200 feet.
Kimra WAGGING TAILS FARM Kiddwiggins says
How many jars does this make?
Kimra WAGGING TAILS FARM Kiddwiggins says
Never mind about the jars I found where you mentioned them. I have lots of pickles, have you ever double recipe?
©Rachel Arsenault says
Kimra, The recipe makes about 5 pints depending on the size of your pieces. Yes, you can double this recipe. If you click “Print” in the recipe card, it will open up in a new window. Change the serving from 80 to 160, and it will calculate the amount of ingredients for you.
I Am concerned about making these pickles with the water softer I have treating my well water. I do have access to the water prior to the softner. Should I use that even with the high iron content?
©Rachel Arsenault says
Shelkey, I don’t know how a water softener works, but the general consensus is that if it is safe to drink, it is safe to can with it. I do know that soft water is recommended for pickling. Hard water can interfere with curing and cause discolored pickles, particularly if it is high in iron. You may want to get in touch with the manufacturer of your water softener to find out if the treated water will affect your pickles.