Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Cooking #26: Victory through Sheila's Pickles

I reviewed this week called Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff, in which the protagonist's German-born grandfather grew cucumbers in his Victory Garden every year during World War II and then he would pickle them.  This was something a lot of people did then, who, unlike this grandfather, only did it during the war.

I was telling my friend Sheila about it because she also makes pickles.  Her pickles, however, are bread and butter pickles.  She calls them Christmas Pickles because they are green and have some red in them and because she gives them out to people at Christmas.   Everyone else calls them Sheila's Pickles and she has developed quite a fan base over time, so that every year she finds she must make more and more jars of pickles.

And yet, making Sheila's Pickles is not difficult and she has volunteered her recipe for anyone who wants to try their hand at it.

Sheila's Bread and Butter Christmas Pickles

1 gallon small firm cucumbers (about 35 firm kirbys or small firm zucchini, or a combination*)
2 red peppers
8 small white onions
1/2 cup pickling or kosher salt

For the Pickling Syrup:

5 cups of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed
5 cups white vinegar

1- Select crisp, fresh cukes or kirbys.  Wash, but do not pare.
2- Slice cukes or kirbys and onions paper thin and cut peppers into fine shreds.**
3- Mix salt with the vegetables and bury pieces of cracked ice in the mixture.
4- Cover with an inverted weighted lid (so the salt and ice pushes as much moisture out of the vegetables as possible) and let stand for three hours.  Drain thoroughly.

5- Mix the dry ingredients with the vinegar and pour over vegetables.  Place over low hear and paddle occasionally with a wooden spoon.
6- Heat the mixture to scalding, but do not boil.
7- Pour in hot sterilized jar and seal.
8- Process the jars in a water bath for at least 10 minutes

Makes 7 to 8 pints

*Sheila uses small firs kirbys and I think they are better than either small cucumber or zucchini, but that would be a matter of taste.

**a mandolin makes slicing the cukes or kirbys much easier and faster.

If you have never done a water bath for preserving food, here is a short video that tells you how to do it.  You really don't need all the equipment they show, but it is nice.  For year, Sheila did her water bath in a large pasta pot.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly event hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. I haven't canned pickles in years. These sound so good I may be tempted to take out my canning pot again.

  2. They are delicious and easy to make and so good. I had some on a grilled burger last night and it was heaven.

  3. I do love pickles. Thanks for the recipe

  4. I love bread and butter pickles..but never thought of actually making them....hhhhhmmmmm

  5. I love pickles on my tuna salad sandwich. As a matter of fact, I think that's what I'll have for lunch.

  6. I just got it in my head last week to try making my own pickles and I was going to start with bread and butter ones, too. I love your recipe but I'm going to start out smaller and follow a recipe I found for one jar pickles! Just to make sure I like it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. We made pickles once a long time ago, and one evening heard an explosion and there they were on the ceiling. Just like in the movie Holiday Inn. :<))

  8. W just came back from Mt. Vernon where we were shown how Martha Washington pickled her vegetables.