RECIPE: Old-Fashioned Sour Pickles & Bread-and-Butter Pickles

Pickling GherkinsLocal Thetford, Vermont, cookbook author Beatrice Vaughn was a prolific writer, penning cookbooks in honor of maple syrup, apples, citrus, jams and jellies, and preserves and pickles.

Pickling, the process of preserving food by fermentation in brine, is a method of home food preservation that yields tart and spicy results. This type of preservation is a common practice for gardeners, cooks, and food enthusiasts who wish to store the bounty of the all-too-short summer harvest.

The following two recipes come from Pickles, Relishes & Preserves (1971) by Beatrice Vaughan. The first is for the kind of sour pickle used at Vermont’s famous “sugaring-off” or “sugar on snow” parties; the second is a traditional sweet bread-and-butter pickle. This cookbook is available in the University of Vermont’s Department of Special Collections (call number: TX805 .V38).

Old-Fashioned Sour Pickles

small cucumbers




Fill sterilized quart jars with small fresh cucumbers, well scrubbed. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar to each jar. Fill the jars with cider vinegar and seal. Let stand at least a month before using.

Bread-and-Butter Pickles

6 cups sliced medium cucumbers, unpeeled

½ cup salt

2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced

3 medium green peppers, seeded and chopped

3 ½ cups vinegar

1 cup water

3 ½ cups sugar

1 tablespoon celery seed

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 teaspoon turmeric

Combine cucumber slices and the salt, cover with cold water, and let stand overnight. Drain, rinse with fresh water, then drain again. Add the sliced onions and chopped green pepper. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and spices in a good-sized kettle. Bring to boiling, then add the vegetables. Bring again to boiling and cook 5 minutes. Seal in sterilized jars. Makes about 4 pints.

This blog post is part of a series highlighting recipes that interweave the culture and history of cooking in Vermont, and is related to the Vermont Foodways Digital Initiative.


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