Dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. It is easy to confuse these two, especially without a label on the bottle, and without tasting it. Both of these very popular versions of pickled cucumber use almost the same set of ingredients: vinegar, salt, cucumber. The only difference is that bread and butter pickles are sweet because it has sugar, while dill pickles have dill and other herbs and spices to make it taste savory.
Bread and Butter Pickles Trivia
- While it might make sense to assume that this kind of pickled cucumber got its name from the idiomatic expression “bread and butter” which was in use as early as the 1700s to refer to basic needs, the truth is it supposedly got its name because the pickled cucumbers were used to barter for bread and butter – two essential food items at that time.
- The idiomatic expression “bread and butter” means a lot of different things: (1) basic necessity; (2) means of livelihood; and (3) superstitious incantation uttered when two people walking side by side have to separate to avoid an obstacle on their path.
- Americans consume an estimated 20 billion pickles each year.
Bread and Butter Pickles Buying Guide
There are currently several brands of bread and butter pickles and you can buy them at the grocery or supermarket. These are also sold online. Homemade or artisanal bread and butter pickles are sold in farmers markets.
When buying, make sure to check the plastic seal on the lid. Check the expiration or best-before date.
Buy enough that you can stock up your pantry, but not too many bottles that there is no more space for other items in your pantry. Bread and butter pickles are typically available all year long so there is no need to buy large quantities or hoard this item.
Bread and Butter Pickles Production & Farming in Texas
Bread and butter pickles are available in Texas all year long. Cucumber, which is the primary ingredient for this kind of pickled food, is also available all year long. In Texas, growers harvest cucumbers twice a year: early summer and fall. The Best of Texas Bread and Butter Pickles, Texas Hill Country German Bread and Butter Pickles, and H-E-B Pickle Me Sweet Bread and Butter Pickle Chips are some of the local Texas-made bread and butter pickles brands.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Commercial pickling uses preservatives. Below are some of the preservatives used in making bread and butter pickles.
- Sodium benzoate is added to improve the shelf life of the dill pickle.
- Alum is used to make the texture of the pickled cucumber crispy. This food additive is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are used to help preserve the pickled cucumbers inside the glass bottle.
- Sodium chloride is used for preservation and to improve the taste of the dill pickles.
- Citric acid is used to boost the acidity or the sour flavor of the dill pickles.
Bread and butter pickles are sold in glass bottles. An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of the manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, etc.
Enjoying Bread and Butter Pickles
Pickled cucumbers like bread and butter pickles are eaten as a snack, a side dish, or a condiment. Bread and butter pickles are fat-free and low in calories. Bread and butter pickles are a great choice if you are making sandwiches and hamburgers, as opposed to dill pickles which, in comparison, is far more suited to savory meats like pastrami or spiced sausage.
Whether it is store-bought or home-made bread and butter pickles, storage is the same: refrigerate it, especially after opening it.
Make your own homemade bread and butter pickle
It is great to have a jar of homemade bread and butter pickles at home because it is easy to eat, delicious, easy to pair with other food, perfect for any eating any time of the day, and is enjoyed by almost everyone. It is easy to make. It is also a great conversation starter. There are several theories regarding how it got its name. In the 2013 book by Erin Coopey entitled The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, two theories were provided.
This is the first one: the name started during the Depression Era. It was called bread and butter because it was as common as the actual bread and butter during a meal. The second theory goes like this: the name was inspired by the Victorian practice of serving bread and butter with pickles.
Another theory is that the name is inspired by the Swedish smorgasbord. It has bread, butter, and pickles, so the pickles were also called bread and butter later on. Here’s a fourth theory: in the 1920s, husband and wife Omar and Cora Fanning fell on hard times and the husband decided to make pickled cucumbers so that they have something to eat. They were able to produce more and it was sent to the grocer in town in exchange for essential food items, like bread and butter. Hence, the name.
This recipe produces 5 pints of bread and butter pickles.
- Fresh cucumbers, 2 1/2 lbs.
- Salt, 1/4 cup
- Onions, 1 pound
- Distilled vinegar, 1 1/4 cup
- Apple cider vinegar, 1 cup
- Sugar, 2 1/4 cups
- Mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
- Crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon
- Celery seeds, 3/4 teaspoon
- Cinnamon stick, 1 inch
- Allspice berries, 6 pieces
- Turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon
Step 1. Cut the cucumber and onions into thin slices. Salt it and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Step 2. Prepare the pickling syrup. Combine sugar, vinegar, and all the spices in a pot. Bring to a boil.
Step 3. As soon as the sugar is completely dissolved, add the cucumbers and onions.
Step 4. Transfer to jars.
Step 5. Process in a hot water bath.
Step 6. Let cool and refrigerate.