When it comes to pickles, ours is a house divided. Amy likes to indulge her salt tooth with crisp, garlicky pickles - the more sour, the better! Tim does not share Amy’s love of fermented vegetables. His tastes fall more firmly in the sweet end of the spectrum, and in the world of pickles those are few and far between.
Recently, a large bag of Kirby cukes descended upon our refrigerator as part of a weekly farm share, and it seemed right to make a snack we both could enjoy. Kirbys are really only good for pickling due to their thicker skin. After pushing them aside for other vegetables throughout the week, Amy decided quick action (and quick pickling) was needed.
Pickling, like canning, is one of those processes that people avoid because they think it is long and arduous. Or maybe they had a bad experience with a pickled egg provided by an overzealous extended family member (some things should just remain unpickled). In fact, pickling simply refers to the act of extending the life of something by soaking it in a salty/acidic environment. There is no minimum amount of time associated with this process, opening the door for new, exciting, and flavorful ways to experience boring, run-of-the-mill vegetables. Seriously - try throwing red onions in some vinegar and leaving them in the fridge overnight - a whole new world of homemade flavor!
But back to kirby cukes. This recipe is a great way to get sweet, tangy bread and butter pickles for your summer cookout with very little time or effort (although we won’t tell on you if you pretend otherwise). Besides cutting up the cukes, it’s pretty much a two-step process, some waiting, and you're ready to slap those babies on a burger, brighten up a boring sandwich, or eat them straight out of the container with a fork.
Easy Bread and Butter Pickles
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
3 large Kirby/pickling cucumbers
2 large carrots
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup thinly sliced onion (any kind)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons mustard seed
½ teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
To start, we used 3 large cukes and 2 large carrots, one of which was purple which changed the color of the pickling liquid. Feel free to omit the carrots and use all cucumbers if you'd prefer. The carrots do not get as soft as the cucumbers and take a bit longer to absorb the brine.
Thinly slice your cucumbers and carrots**, and put them in a large bowl suitable for salting and soaking. Add the salt, cover and leave on the counter for 1½ hours. You can pop them in the fridge if you want to.
Move your salted vegetables to a colander or strainer and thoroughly rinse the entire contents to remove all of the salt. Ensure that they are well-drained, and return the veg to the same bowl (no need to do unnecessary dishes). Add the sliced onion to the contents and toss everything together.
Grab a medium pot/saucepan and add to it the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, pour the entire mixture over your bowl of things to be pickled. Let the beautifully brining bowl stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Then, cover and refrigerate the entire bowl for 24 hours. We moved them to jars at this point. Your pickles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks (but we promise they won’t last that long once you taste them).
**We’d say about a quarter inch, but you know how thick or thin you like your pickles. This is America, afterall! You have a right to choose your pickle thickness, gosh darnit.