Kitchen Adventures: Bread and Butter Pickles, and Canning Tips for Beginners

by tatiana on July 8, 2015

Bread and Butter Pickles | Recipe and Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

The dream of the 1890s is alive in my tiny kitchen, you guys.

As we all learned from reading Little House on the Prairie, food preservation was an integral part of life before refrigeration. Nowadays, canning remains a popular way to preserve the fruits and vegetables people grow in their gardens, but what about those of us who don’t have a garden? Although I may be a garden-less city dweller, I love picking up in-season fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Canning for me is more of a hobby than a necessity, so, what does this hobby cost me?

I’m pretty new to the canning game, this being the fourth time I’ve dedicated a day to creating a stash of goods to enjoy over the coming months, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. (I’m definitely still a beginner, though!) Here, I’ll share the costs of getting started, tools you’ll need, things I’ve learned and, my thrice tested (and ever-evolving) Bread and Butter Pickles recipe.

What You’ll Need

Before making my first batch of pickles I watched numerous YouTube videos, pored over tons of blog and recipe sites, and took copious notes with techniques and ingredients I wanted to try. Here are a couple of my favorite videos that go over the basics of canning pickles: video one and video two.

Canning involves working with very hot water and glass, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools so you don’t hurt yourself. I recommend a kit similar to the following:

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

I bought mine on Amazon and it cost $13.99 at the time. I use all of the tools except for the regular tongs. I’m still not sure what those are for.

You’ll also need a water bath canner, which is basically a huge pot that you can fill with water high enough so your jars are completely submerged. I purchased this one, again from Amazon, and it cost about $20.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

In addition to the internet, as mentioned above, I found that this book has been an excellent resource.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

It isn’t the sexiest book, but it is wonderful, and goes over everything you need to know about the science behind canning, safety guidelines, and contains a lot of great recipes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe (and a Cost Breakdown)*

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers – $12 
3 lbs Yellow Onions – $3 
3 tbsp Mustard Seed – $7.98 (2 packs at $3.99/each)
4 c White Vinegar – $3.99 (per 64 oz. bottle)
3 c Apple Cider Vinegar – $3.99 (per 32 oz. bottle)
6 c White Sugar – $1.99 (per 4lb bag)
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes – $1.99 (per 1 oz. pack)
1.5 tsp Turmeric – $4.59 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
2 tsp Celery Seed – $3.99 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
1 c Kosher Salt – $3.49 (per 48 oz box)

Cost of Ingredients: $47.01 (assuming you have to purchase all items and don’t have anything on hand)
Cost of Jars: About $8 (The cost of jars can vary depending where you buy them. I purchased mine individually from a local hardware store for 0.75 each.)
Cost of Canning Supplies: About $24

Total First Time Cost: $79.01

* All cost estimates based on local San Francisco pricing. A few other quick things about this cost breakdown that are important to remember: 1.) You can reuse your jars. Just make sure you purchase new lids as those can only be used once, 2.) Almost all of your spices and vinegars will be good for about two or more batches of this recipe (or other recipes), 3.) The math breaks down to $6.58 per pint jar, which still isn’t bad when compared to really good quality pickles on the market. And if you’re reusing jars, and already have canning equipment on hand, it really is about $3.92, or less if you have spices and vinegar on hand. 

Now that we have our costs laid out, let’s jump right into the recipe! First, you’ll need to slice the cucumbers. I like to slice them at about 1/3 of an inch because I like a chunkier, crisper pickle. Then, slice the onions.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Quick tip: taste test a bit of every cucumber just in case you have a bad/bitter cucumber in your batch.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Put them in any non-reactive container (I went with the stoneware part of my Crockpot and a couple Ziploc bags). Take your cup of kosher salt and add it to your pickle/onion mixture. Put that in the fridge and let it do it’s thing for 2-3 hours (3 hours is most commonly recommended, but I sometimes get impatient, and 2 hours has been totally fine).

While your pickles are literally chillin, you can start boiling the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Carefully uncover the pot, let the water cool a bit before pulling the jars out so there aren’t as many boiling bubbles and possibilities to burn the crap out of yourself. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

You’ll also want to throw some of that hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Next you’ll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot we’ll add both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

With your handy curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to also add enough liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Once the jars have been filled, you’ll want to use your stick tool (a wooden chopstick also works fine here) and release bubbles by swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight (which means, don’t screw it on super tight or else you could crack your jars).

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Now we’re ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You’ll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.

Once processed, remove your jars and place on a towel about 1″ apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.

Do you have experience canning and preserving foods? Have some recipes or tips you’d like to share? Let me know!

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers
  2. 3 lbs Yellow Onions
  3. 3 tbsp Mustard Seed
  4. 4 c White Vinegar
  5. 3 c Apple Cider Vinegar
  6. 6 c White Sugar
  7. 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  8. 1.5 tsp Turmeric
  9. 2 tsp Celery Seed
  10. 1 c Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cucumbers at about 1/3 of an inch. Thinly slice the onions. Put them in any non-reactive container or Ziploc bags. Add the kosher salt to the pickle/onion mixture. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  2. Start heating the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes to sanitize. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.
  3. Ladle some of the hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.
  4. Next you'll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot combine both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.
  5. After 2-3 hours have passed, take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.
  6. With your curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to top with liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.
  7. Once the jars have been filled, use your stick tool to release bubbles by carefully swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight.
  8. Now you're ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You'll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.
  9. Once processed, remove jars from the canner and place on a towel about 1" apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours. 24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.
Tatiana Jimenez | Design + Marketing + DIY http://www.tatianajimenez.com/
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddison July 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

Your photos look great! I love the composition on the shot with the jars drying.

Reply

tatiana July 10, 2015 at 9:44 am

Thanks, Maddison!

Reply

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