What’s in a Name? Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter pickles are named so because they go well with bread and butter? Because they were considered a staple like bread and butter? Nope, at least not according to Wikipedia (although if you guessed they were once a staple, you’re in the ballpark):

“Bread-and-butter pickles are a marinated pickle produced with sliced cucumbers in a solution of vinegar, sugar and spices which may be either be processed by canning or simply chilled as refrigerator pickles. The origin of the name and the spread of their popularity in the United States is attributed to Omar and Cora Fanning, a pair of Illinios cucumber farmers who started selling sweet and sour pickles in the 1920s and filed for the trademark “Fanning’s Bread and Butter Pickles” in 1923 (though the recipe and similar ones are probably much older). The story attached to the name is that the Fannings survived rough years by making the pickles with their surplus of undersized cucumbers and bartering them with their grocer for staples such as bread and butter.” -Wikipedia

Here’s Grandma Falba’s version from the Standard Figuring Book, so certainly this recipe pre-dates the Fannings trademark filing.

Bread and Butter Pickles

2 qts. sliced cucumbers
12 onions sliced (1 qt)
2 sweet red peppers
2 1/2 C vinegar
2 C sugar
1 t cinnammon
1 t celery seed
1 t turmeric

Soak cucumbers in 1/4 C salt 1/2 hr.
Boil vinegar and spices, add onions and cucumbers and cook 20 min.

The recipe lists the ingredients and briefest of instructions. A note added in 1974 says “if you don’t soak cucumbers forget 1/4 C salt and add 1 T salt when cooking.”

Grandma Falba’s version of bread and butter pickles–good enough to barter!

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