Bread and Butter Pickles: Step-by-Step

Difficulty Level is 3 (on a Scale of 1 to 5)
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Have you always wanted to try canning, but were intimidated by the process? Try this simple recipe for sweet Bread and Butter Pickles. You don't need expensive equipment, and the hardest part is chopping all the vegetables. Invite a friend over to help and have a pickling party!


This is a high-acid recipe. Do not use any equipment made of aluminum, zinc, iron, brass, copper, galvanized metal or chipped/cracked enamelware. It will react with the acid and spoil the pickles. Wash all utensils thoroughly.

  • One large enamel or stainless steel pot, 12 qt size or larger, like this 21-1/2-Quart Water-Bath Canner
  • An undersized lid for the pot (explained below in the prep)
  • A clean, long-handled slotted spoon
  • Large collander
  • A pair of tongs like these , sterilized
  • 8 to 10 pint-size canning jars with lids, sterilized
  • Wide-Mouth Funnel (optional), sterilized


  • 12 medium cucumbers
  • 8 medium onions
  • 4 green peppers
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 6 1/2 quarts water
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 6 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup white or yellow mustard seed


Sterilize the canning jars, lids, tongs and canning funnel (if you're using one) by boiling them in water for about 10 minutes. Remove carefully and let them dry upside down on paper towels until ready to use. Another option is to run everything through the dishwasher and leave the door closed until it's time to can the pickles.

Wash vegetables and slice thin, about 1/8 inch thick. (Figure 1)

Combine salt and water in the large pot to make a brine. Add the vegetables and cover with the undersized lid to weigh everything down, ensuring that all veggies are submerged. Soak overnight. (Figure 2)

Drain vegetables in a large collander. Do not rinse them. (Figure 3)

Combine sugar, vinegar and spices in the same large pot. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes. (Figure 4)

Add vegetables and cook until clear, about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir occasionally while cooking, pressing down on any vegetables that are floating on top. (Figure 5)

Remove from heat. While pickles are hot, use clean tongs to pack them into the sterilized jars (Figure 6). The glass jars will heat up quickly. You can wrap a damp paper towel around each one as you're packing to protect your hands, if necessary. (A canning funnel makes this step easier, but it is not necessary.) Fill all jars with the vegetables, then go back and fill jars with remaining hot liquid in pot. Take a clean knife and gently push down into pickles to release any air bubbles; add more liquid if needed. Leave about 1/4 inch of headspace between pickles and top of jar.

With a dampened paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any liquid (Figure 7). Immediately cap with lids and tightly screw on lid bands. Place the jars at least 2 inches apart to cool for 12-24 hours. You might hear a "pop" sound as the lids create a vacuum seal.

When pickles have cooled, make sure the center of each lid is concave. You can test this by pushing down in the center of the lid. If it gives, the jar did not seal properly. Pickles in these jars should be refrigerated and consumed within 5-7 days. When a jar is sealed properly, it should be stored in a cool, dark place, ideally at 50-70 degrees. Refrigerate all jars after opening. The finished pickles (Figure 8) are delicious served as a simple side dish, or chopped and used as a relish.