This recipe for bread and butter pickles is a great way to try fermented foods. Grown-ups love them, my kids love them, even people who don't typically eat fermented veggies love them. These pickles are crispy and delicious. Even if you've disliked every fermented veggie you've tried, give these a shot!
This recipe is my favorite way to use up abundant cucumbers, squash and zucchinis in the summer. And, you can even reuse the brine and spices for another batch once the pickles are gone.
Fermented Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 1 quart
3-4 medium cucumbers (OR zucchinis or summer squash*)
1 tsp mustard powder
~20 celery leaves, a stalk of celery, OR a 1/4 tsp of dried celery seed
1/2 cup raw mild honey
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1.5 Tb celtic sea salt
2 Tb whey (optional)
1 Tb mild pickling spice**
In a medium bowl, combine mustard powder, honey, vinegar, salt, and whey. Stir well to dissolve the honey and salt. You may need to leave this sitting for an hour or two to get everything to dissolve and combine well.
Wash the cucumbers and celery well.
Add the celery leaves/stalk (if using) to the bottom of the jar.
Put the pickling spice and celery seed into a cloth tea bag. This makes it so that you won't have spices stuck to the pickles when it is time to eat them. If you don't have a cloth tea bag, you could just put the spices in the bottom of your jar.
Add the cucumber slices to the jar, packing them down tightly. Put in the cloth bag of spices around the middle of the jar and then keep packing in the cukes.
Pour the honey/vinegar mixture over the cucumber slices.
Pack down the cucumbers so that they are covered by the liquid. If your cucumbers keep floating up to the top, try weighing them down. I use a rock from my yard to hold the cukes down (I originally boiled the rock in water for a few minutes to make sure it was nice and clean, and then cooled it down before putting it on top of the cucumbers.) There should be at least 1-inch of head space at the top of the jar.
Scrape any spices or cucumber bits that are stuck to the jar back down into the liquid. Then use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the inside of the jar above the liquid. (This will help in making sure that the ferment works well and no funky stuff grows at the top of the jar.)
Put a lid on the jar and leave at room temperature for 2 days; then transfer to the refrigerator. You can taste-test a pickle slice to make sure they are ready before moving them to the fridge. If you'd like them a little more pickled, leave them out for another day.
Enjoy! Once your pickles are all gone, don't throw out that brine and the remaining spices. Rather, chop some more cucumbers, pack 'em into a clean jar, pour the brine/spices over them, and ferment again! The flavor of the second batch will be a little muted, but still totally tasty!
*Zucchinis and summer squash make great pickles too, BUT they will be soft instead of crispy.
**I buy Frontier brand mild pickling spice from the bulk section at the natural foods store. If you can't find pickling spice, blog reader Brian has shared his recipe for pickling spice as follows:
Makes enough for 6 quarts of pickles
4 TBS yellow ground mustard
3 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS allspice
1 TBS dill weed
1 TBS celery seed
1 TBS red pepper flakes
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp caraway seed