Nana’s bread and butter pickles

Nana’s bread and butter pickles

This is the recipe that launched my canning and pickling problem over ten years ago – the thin, sweet-sour slices of cucumber, onion, and pepper flecked with mustard seed that my grandma served with ham salad sandwiches and in neat little piles on the holiday relish trays. It was her mom’s recipe – my nana. If you don’t think you like bread and butter pickles, you’re picturing fat slices of syrupy sweet, smushy, store-bought pickles. These ain’t them.


slicing cucs

If you can get one, a mandoline slicer makes nice, even cuc slices.

5 quarts thinly sliced small cucumbers
8 small onions, thinly sliced
2 large green peppers, thinly sliced
½ cup salt
1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons mustard seed
5 cups sugar
½ teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups cider vinegar


1. Mix cucumbers, onions, peppers, and salt. Cover with ice and let stand 20 minutes.

2. Make syrup with remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

3. Drain cucumber mixture and add it to the syrup pot.

4. Bring to a boil, keeping pickles under liquid; boil for 10 min.

5. Pour into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace; process ½ pints for 5 minutes and pints for 7 minutes. Cool slowly.

NOTE: Because cucumbers can vary in length and width, the cucumber measurement is based on the volume of sliced cucumbers you’ll need. Look for the smallest cucumbers you can find, as those will have tiny seeds and thin skins. Generally speaking, a half-bushel of today’s “pickling cucs” – which are much bigger than they used to be – will yield approximately 10 pints of pickles with a few cucumbers leftover.

Leave a Reply