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Easy Small Batch Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

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This small batch refrigerator bread and butter pickles recipe is easy to make — no canning required — and serves up a sweet and tangy flavor. 

Like easy? Try these pickled refrigerator green beans, too!

2 glass jars with sliced pickles inside

Pickles come in a variety of flavors, ingredients often varying depending on what’s in season. When cucumbers are abundant in the garden or at the farmers market, this recipe is a perfect way to use some. 

Bread and butter pickles

It’s a funny name for a pickle, isn’t it? As the story goes, Omar and Cora Fanning farmed cucumbers and used them to make a family favorite pickle recipe. One hard season, Mrs. Fanning utilized the “cull” cukes to make jars of pickles to barter with. 

They bartered for basics like (wait for it) bread and butter. The name stuck. 


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Making refrigerator bread and butter pickles

Refrigerator pickles don’t require any sort of processing since they’re not shelf stable. They are stored in the refrigerator (surprise!) and making them couldn’t be easier. 

This recipe begins with sliced cucumbers and onions. You’ll soak them in salt water for 1-3 hours in the fridge. This pulls some of the moisture out of the cukes, allowing them to more readily absorb the flavors of the pickle brine.

sliced onions and cucumbers in a mixing bowl

The pickle brine is simple, just sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, and turmeric powder.

I’ve seen recipes that don’t include the turmeric, so I suppose you could consider that an optional ingredient, but I’m partial to the flavor it adds. It also adds a lovely color to the pickles. 

The brine is poured over the sliced onions and cucumbers while it’s still hot, then cooled and refrigerated. You’ll get the best flavor if you can wait at least a week before tasting them.

glass jars with sliced pickles inside

Since you won’t be processing these jars of pickles to make them shelf stable, it’s a perfect opportunity to re-use glass jars from the store. You can also reuse canning jar lids (which is not safe for canned items).

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2 glass jars with sliced pickles inside

Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Yield: 2 quarts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

If you like sweet and tangy flavors, you'll love this easy small batch pickle recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/8-1/4" thick
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder

Instructions

  1. Combine sliced cucumbers, onions, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water to cover and mix to combine. Refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just simmering.
  3. While brine is heating, drain cucumber mixture and rinse well.
  4. Transfer cucumbers and onions to jars. This recipe will fill 2 quart sized jars or 4 pint sized jars.
  5. Pour hot brine over cucumbers to within one-half inch of rim. Seal jars with a lid and refrigerate for at least a week before sampling.

Notes

Since you won't be processing these jars of pickles to make them shelf stable, it's a perfect opportunity to re-use glass jars from the store. You can also reuse canning jar lids (which is not safe for canned items).

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History source: https://www.etsu.edu/cph/documents/bread_and_butter_pickles.pdf

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She's a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

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