Lee's Kitchen: A pickle recipe perfect for skeptics

I don’t love pickles. Every once in a time, when I am in a real Jewish deli, like Crown in West Hartford, I will buy pastrami, corned beef, some chopped liver and one or two half-sour pickles. I like those dills. And if I get a ball park hotdog, I will add mustard and relish, but not too much of the latter.

I think I don’t love anything very sour. This doesn’t stop me from using vinegar and, of course, making my own vinaigrette for salad. However, I will use maybe one part vinegar to five parts oil, instead of the regular one-to-three vinegar to oil, and I am fairly fussy about what vinegar. (These days I like champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar, instead of wine vinegar.)

But, back to pickles. Some years ago I was at Gloria Pepin’s house in Madison and she offered me some pickles she had just made. I hope she didn’t see what my husband used to say was “my face,” and I said I would love to. They were way beyond delicious. She probably sent me home with a jar and the recipe, but I lost the recipe.

So when another friend tried to buy pickle relish that wasn’t filled with chemicals, I told her about that recipe and suggested she make it herself.

Gloria was kind enough to send me a new recipe, which she copied written in the hand of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, who founded the French Culinary Institute in New York City and San Francisco. I now have it in my computer file forever. I will put the handwritten recipe in my jewelry box.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Adapted by Gloria Pepin from Dorothy Cann Hamilton’s recipe

 

1 gallon unwaxed cucumbers (28 to 30 medium); can also use long English cukes

8 small to medium white onions

2 green peppers, shredded

1/2 cup coarse kosher salt

5 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups not-too-strong vinegar

 

Select crisp, fresh cucumbers. Wash but do not pare them. Slice crosswise in paper thin slices. A small plastic mandoline will do nicely, but watch your fingers. Slice the onions thin. Mix salt with the three vegetables and bury pieces of cracked ice (1 quart) in the mixture. Cover with a weighted lid and let stand for about 3 hours, then drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, mix sugar, turmeric and cloves together. Add mustard and celery seed, vinegar and water and pour over the pickles. Place over low heat and paddle, occasionally, using a wooden smooth. Heat the mixture to scalding but do not boil. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Allow to cool, then put the lids on.

I refrigerate the pickles, which will last, I am sure, for at least one month.

Lee White lives in Groton. She can be reached at leeawhite@aol.com.

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