Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles – Preserving the Last Week of Summer

sweet bread and butter pickles close-up

This feature is sponsored by KitchenAid, who is letting us play every day in the TasteSpotting Kitchen with the full suite of stand mixer attachments.

When I woke up this morning, it was darker than it was yesterday morning. A chill in the air tickled my toes that were peeking out from under my sheets, and I reflexively pulled them in, tucking my legs up close to my stomach like a child.

I was cold.

Too cold for the tank tops and shorts I’ve been wearing to bed all summer. My bare, goose-bumped arms searched aimlessly for my down comforter that I had kicked to the side when crawling into bed the previous night. It had been months since I’d used it and it felt unexpectedly heavy. Unexpectedly constrictive.

The date on the calendar says there’s still another week before summer is officially over, but it feels like fall has slipped into the air. I already feel nostalgic for sweet nectarines, plump blueberries that burst in the mouth, and the crisp ears of corn I’ve been tucking into my salads all season.

“Don’t go,” I want to say to summer. “I’m not quite done with you.”

I want to hold tight to these last few days – hold tight to the last remnants of sun and corn and slip-on sandals that fall hasn’t forced away yet.

I want to preserve the moment.

But seasons don’t fit into jars as easily as produce does. I can make a jam out of strawberries to enjoy in the coming months, but I can’t make a jam out of the way the sun feels on my shoulders when I’m strolling outside in a sun dress.

persian cucumbers for sweet bread and butter pickles
Even so, it feels purposeful to use nature’s bounty to make something that can be preserved and enjoyed when the season is long gone. Or, in the case of sweet bread and butter pickles that don’t keep as long as jam or sour pickles, something that can be enjoyed and relished for one precious week.

I made these pickles — pickles that remind me of BBQs, picnics and eating sand-speckled sandwiches at the beach — because I want to suck every last drop of summer out of these next few days. Instead of buying pickling cucumbers, I zeroed in on Persians, the cucumbers I’ve been crunching and munching and gorging on for the last few months. And instead of using a sour brining liquid, I decided to infuse them with the sweetness that also feels prototypical of this time of year. These aren’t just bread and butter pickles.

These are last-days-of-summer pickles.
sliced cucumbers in slicer

cucumbers and onions in colander
The best part about sweet pickle recipes is how quickly and easily they can be made and enjoyed, especially when using the slicer attachment on the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. With the mixer set to stirring speed four, six cucumbers and one onion can be sliced in perfect even slivers in less than two minutes. They can then be salted and placed into a colander to allow some of their water content to drain away while you simultaneously bring the brining liquid and seasonings to a boil over the stove. The brine is allowed to cool, poured over the cucumbers and onions, and then the container (or jar) is transferred to the fridge to chill.

And that’s it. No muss, no fuss and, because of the slicer attachment, no cut fingers.

I’m going to eat these sweet pickles on everything this week. I’m going to layer them on my sandwiches like lettuce. I’m going to eat them as a salad with dinners of grilled chicken and corn. I’m going to snack on them as I sit outside on the patio, wistfully sipping a glass of Rosé in a white dress that I should have stopped wearing a week ago.

And then, when the week’s over, I’m going to buy a new sweater, pick up a butternut squash and crisp Pink Lady apple at the Farmer’s Market, and welcome autumn back into my life.

pickle jar with flowers

Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles

Adapted from recipe from the Chicks with Knives, who just hosted a pop-up pickle shop in downtown Los Angeles
Makes approx. 20 servings

Ingredients

2 lbs Persian cucumbers, rinsed and sliced
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoon salt
2 cups white wine vinegar
3 ½ cups cold water
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
¼ cup fresh dill, minced

Directions

Slice the cucumbers and toss with the onions and 1 tablespoon salt. Let rest in a colander for 30 minutes.

Rinse and drain. Put in to a bowl or deep dish.

In a large, non-reactive pot heat the rest of the ingredients until boiling. Taste and adjust salt and sugar as needed. Let cool to room temperature then pour over the cucumbers. Let rest until completely cool. Chill. Serve as needed.

Will keep one week.

by diana on September 12, 2010 · 4 comments

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: