Chef Maxwell's recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles

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This recipe was prepared by Chef John Maxwell on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program.

Maxwell, a certified executive chef, culinary educator and member of the American Academy of Chefs, shares delicious seasonal recipes in a Real Virginia segment sponsored by Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Bread and Butter Pickles

(Makes 2 quarts)

3½ pounds pickling-variety cucumbers (such as Kirby)
1 large yellow or white onion
5 tablespoons salt
2 cups plus 2½ tablespoons sugar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole celery seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1" cinnamon stick

Trim the ends from each cucumber, and then cut crosswise into generous 1/4"-thick slices. Transfer to a large bowl. Halve the onion lengthwise, and then cut into wedges about 1/2" wide at the middle. Add the onion to the bowl of cucumber slices.

Add the salt and 2½ tablespoons sugar to the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Set aside, uncovered for 3 to 6 hours to draw moisture away from the vegetables. They will sweat, soften and wrinkle.

Drain the vegetables, rinse with water and let drain again. You want the vegetables to be salty but not overly so.

In a pot, combine the remaining 2 cups sugar, vinegar, turmeric, mustard seed, celery seed, peppercorns and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cucumbers and onion. Stir occasionally to ensure even exposure to the seasonings, until the pot is just at the simmering point. Avoid boiling, as that will cause the cucumbers to go limp.

Turn off the heat. Transfer the vegetables and brine to prepared glass container(s). You should fill the container. Push down the vegetables, as they have a tendency to bob up. Set aside, uncovered, to cool. Occasionally press down on the vegetables to submerge them in the brine.

When cooled to room temperature, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight before eating. The flavor will mellow, and the vegetables will pick up a brighter yellow hue. The pickles keep well for a good 6 months in the refrigerator.

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