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Granny’s Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

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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.

jars of bread and butter pickles on a table

“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.

a pile of sliced cucumbers on a cutting board

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.

sliced cucumbers and onions in a pot of pickling brine

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.

canning jars of sweet and sour pickles on a blue towel

jars of bread and butter pickles on a table
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4.95 from 18 votes

Granny's Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

These bread and butter pickles are a perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors. Perfect for topping your favorite burgers or adding to salads.
Course Canning
Cuisine American
Keyword bread butter pickles
Prep Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Canning Time 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings 80 servings
Calories 5kcal
Author Grow a Good Life

Ingredients

Instructions

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.

Notes

This is a tested safe canning recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Altering the recipe may make it unsafe for canning.
All times are at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Adjustments must be made for altitudes greater than 1,000 ft. Processing time for altitudes of 1,001 - 6,000 ft is 15 minutes, and above 6,000 feet is 20 minutes.
I am happy to answer any questions, but if you need immediate canning help or answers, please contact your local extension office.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ounce | Calories: 5kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.2g | Sodium: 245mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

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.

Canning Resources:

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146 Comments

    1. Scott, After opening, bread and butter pickles should be stored in the fridge and eaten within 1-3 months. Here are a few tips to make them last longer:
      • Use a clean utensil every time you take out pickles from the jar to avoid introducing bacteria.
      • Make sure to tightly cover the jar after each use.
      • To tell if the pickles have gone bad, check for any off smells, unusual textures, or mold. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the pickles.
      I hope this helps!

  1. I followed this recipe to a tee and tried them today. They are way too sour and pungent to eat. Not nearly as sweet as I had hoped. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but would love some suggestions! I only waited 2 weeks, so that may have been the problem.

    1. Laura, I’m sorry to hear that your pickles turned out too sour and pungent. Bread and butter pickles should have a balance of sweet and tangy flavors.
      Here are a few suggestions:
      1. Wait a bit longer: Sometimes, waiting a bit longer can mellow out the flavors. Try letting the pickles sit for another week or two.
      2. Adjust the sugar: You can increase the sugar slightly to balance out the vinegar. For example, add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to the brine. Make sure to dissolve it completely.
      3. Check your vinegar: Make sure you used food-grade vinegar with 5% acidity. There are cleaning vinegars with higher acidity that can make your pickles too sour. Double-check the label to ensure it’s the right type.
      4. Try different vinegar: While you can’t reduce the vinegar for safety reasons, you could try using a different type of vinegar as long as it is at least 5% acidity, such as apple cider vinegar, which has a slightly different flavor profile that might be less pungent for your taste.
      I hope these tips help! Let me know how it goes if you try again.

    1. Marsha, Processing time for quart jars for this recipe is 15 minutes. (Adjust for altitude: Increase processing time: 5 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 ft; 10 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 ft; 15 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 ft; 20 minutes for 8,001 to 10,000 ft.).

      1. Do you need to use a non reactive bowl. I didn’t see it in your directions or in the National canning website but I have found some recipes that call for non reactive bowls.

        1. Yes, it’s best to use a non-reactive bowl, such as one made from glass or stainless steel, when soaking the cucumbers in salted water. This helps prevent any unwanted reactions between the salt and the material of the bowl, ensuring the best flavor for your pickles.

    1. Peggy, The number can vary based on the size and type of cucumbers. On average, 3 pounds of cucumbers is about 6-8 medium-sized cucumbers. I hope this helps!

  2. My family and I LOVE these pickles! The only thing I’d prefer is for them to be crunchier. Any advice on how to make that happen ?

    1. Jennifer, I’m glad to hear that you and your family enjoy the pickles! For a crunchier texture, you can try a few different techniques:
      1. Make sure to use fresh, firm cucumbers and remove a thin slice from the blossom end before slicing them. This can help remove enzymes that may cause softening.
      2. You can soak the cucumber slices in an ice water bath for a couple of hours before pickling to help them retain their crispness.
      3. Adding a sprinkle of calcium chloride (pickle crisp) to each jar before canning can also help maintain the pickles’ crunchiness. Follow the instructions on the container.

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