Pickle Packin’ Mama
My mother made bread and butter pickles every summer—jars and jars. I loved ’em. They were so crisp and tangy and spruced up many a sandwich.
It wasn’t until years after I was married, that I attempted pickle making on my own. A college professor in my church made what he called a 30-day pickle. Even now, it’s the best I’ve ever had.
I know there are 9-10-12-14-16 and 24-day pickles. Some take a mere 24 hours. But 30 days! This was the longest I’d ever heard of.
Pack No Pickle Before Its Time
In my prime as a housewife, I figured if my friend could make this recipe, so could I. So I assembled all the ingredients: alum, pickling spice, and vinegar, as well as a large crock. The process called for periodic draining and additions of fresh water.
What a pain to go to the basement at a scheduled time for 30 days to tend the cucumbers until they decided to pickle. It was like caring for a new puppy.
I only made my friend’s pickles once. I even lost the recipe, perhaps intentionally, so I’d never be tempted to take on 30-day pickles again.
Finding the Perfect Pickle
As I viewed the Kirkwood pickle collection, I was overcome with nostalgia. I quickly added a jar of the bread and butter to my cart.
Since then, I’ve added them to sandwiches like I did as a kid. (At the time, I also put them atop my mashed potatoes, a dining faux pau my mother frowned upon.)
The Birth of Bread and Butter Pickles
While looking at the label on my jar of newly purchased pickles, I wondered how they got their name. When I asked Siri, she had several answers. Take your pick of these pickle stories.
- During the Depression an Illinois farmer traded his wife’s canned pickles for bread and butter at the local store. (My favorite explanation)
- The name started in England to describe a tea sandwich made with slices of cucumber between buttered bread.
- It was an easily made, cheap sandwich leftover from the 20’s.
I Gave It a Try
Some pickle purists put slices betwixt buttered bread. Since I’d never eaten pickles exclusively on a sandwich, I made one. I buttered white bread and added a forkful of my Kirkwood bread and butter pickles. I cut the bread to look like a finger sandwich. It was tasty, but, to tell the truth, I prefer my pickles on a BLT or burger rather than as a stand alone sandwich.
I’m with you, Jean. That first explanation hums with detail and life. Also, kudos for trying a strictly bread and butter pickle sandwich. Ooo, my mouth puckers at the thought. Even the peanut butter and bread pickles sandwich seems a bit daunting. On the other hand, banana and PB sandwiches were a staple growing up. And I still love them today, especially with warm toasted bread.
Jean Carnahan says
Ahh, you and Elvis lovin’ those peanut butter and banana sandwiches.