For a sweet and crunchy bread and butter pickle, this recipe is a classic. It can be adapted for other garden vegetables such as string beans, baby zucchini, or even small round Sour Gherkins. National Pickling Cucumbers tend to be smaller and contain less seeds than a juicy fresh eating cucumber. If you have them, place a washed grape leaf or two in each jar before adding the pickles – they contain an enzyme that keeps the pickles crisp.
24 medium unwashed National Pickling cucumbers, cut in to ¼ inch thick rounds (about 6 quarts)
6 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup pickling or kosher salt
6 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
½ cup yellow mustard seeds
1-tablespoon celery seeds
1 fresh cayenne Chile pepper, seeded and minced
6 fresh grape leaves, washed (optional)
6 Pint Jars, sterilized
In a large bowl, mix the cucumbers, onions, and salt in a large bowl. Add cold water to cover and let stand for 3 hours.
Drain in a large colander and rinse well under cold water.
In a stainless steel or enameled pot, bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and cayenne pepper to a boil over high heat.
Stir in the cucumber and onions. Cook just until the liquid reaches a simmer, but do not boil, as this will make soft pickles.
Place the grape leave or two in the bottom of each hot sterilized jar.
Carefully transfer pickles and liquid into jars. Wipe the rims clean with hot water, and place lids and seals. Turn upside down to vacuum pack.
Place in hot water bath with enough water to cover the jars, bring water back to a boil, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove jars, cool and label.
Store pickle jars in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months before opening to allow the flavors to fully blend.