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Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

My Bread and Butter has been tweaked both by my shock at how much sugar was in the original recipe and by a dear memory of my grandmother. Between 10 and 12 years old, I was shipped off to my grandmother's for spring break. "Shipped off" has a negative connotation, but who could complain about spending time with your namesake one on one in Winter Park, Florida of all places. It turned disastrous one year when it was the week my boyfriend dropped me for my best friend, but the friendship survived - the boyfriend did not.

The Florida memory, however, is sitting at the counter of the kitchen every day for lunch: a layer of waxed paper down, honey ham, Swiss cheese, Hellman's mayonnaise, THIN sliced Pepperidge Farm Bread, and Bread and Butter pickles. I had had ham and cheese before. The pickles were the game changer. And I can't eat them or make them without thinking of my grandmother for whom I am named.

The Ball Canning Cookbook has a recipe for bread and butter pickles and then a "British version." I've adapted the British version to my taste, and that's MY bread and butter. My alterations amend the outrageous ratio of onions to pickles and bring in spicy peppers based on whatever is ready to pick in the garden.

The fact that I now can them from the surplus of cucumbers from my garden makes it sentimentally bittersweet. I wish my grandmother could try them. For now, I give them away to colleagues at work and stash them for ham and Swiss days.

10 cups sliced pickling cucumbers

2 cups thinly sliced white onion

1 cup sliced peppers (preferably some type of HOT pepper)

1/2 cup pickling salt or Kosher salt

3 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups brown sugar

2 T mustard seed

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

Pickle Crisp

~ Slice cucumbers, onions, and peppers and cover with salt. Then cover with water and let sit for two hours.

~ While mixture is salting, prepare canning jars. (I have two methods: either bring the canning pot to a boil with the jars in the pot from cold to hot - OR put the jars in the dishwasher while mixture is salting. Either way the jars are hot and sterilized when prepping.)

~ Also while mixture is salting and jars are prepping, bring cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and ginger to a boil in a large pot.

~ Drain cucumbers and rinse.

~ Add cucumber mixture to boiling vinegar mixture and allow to come back to a boil.

~ While this is happening, I drop the lids and screw tops into the boiling canner to "activate" the lids.

~ Fill jars completely with solids, then fill space with liquid leaving 1/2 inch head space - being sure to remove all air bubbles and space.

~ Add 1/8 tsp pickle crisp to each pint jar.

~ Wipe rims of jars and then screw lids shut just past resistance.

~ Place in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes at full boil.

~ Turn off heat and open lid of canner for five minutes.

~ Remove jars and listen for the glorious pop as they naturally vacuum seal.



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