Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bread and butter pickles

So I took my first little handful of bush cucumbers, weighing one-and-a half-pounds, and looked up a recipe for bread and butter pickles. I never did ask the 2 Goats for their version.

I based my recipe very loosely on Smitten Kitchen's method, perhaps because her photographs are so clean. The ice on the sliced cucumbers? A bit silly, but pretty.

I also ate one large cucumber, because the recipe was for only one pound of fruit. Yes, they are fruit.

Then came the funny part. I decided to buy sherry vinegar instead of spirit vinegar, as I like it, a lot, and wanted to make a less-sweet-than-usual pickle. So I went to one of my favourite merchants and picked up a bottle. Got home, gave it a sniff - a lot like sherry, I thought, go figure. I added sugar, tasted, thought it awfully sweet, so added more sherry vinegar, and brought it to the instructed boil.

At which point it ignited, Whoosh, up the alleged extractor fan.

Calmly, I switched off the gas.

Huh. Must be some residual alcohol in there. I looked at the label on the sherry vinegar.




Looked at the label again. Very carefully.

'Sherry.' Written quite plainly.


It doesn't say vinegar anywhere on the bottle.

It was almost like, but not quite as bad as, the time I flambeed chicken livers in turpentine.

My favourite store is selling 18% alcohol by volume on their vinegar rack. Same maker as the vinegar, hence similar label. At $7.95 for 750 ml. This sherry retails at about $21. I looked it up.

I know. I have to tell the owner. I will. But first I'll go and buy five more bottles.

As for the pickles. Well. I added some red wine vinegar. Cranked up the mustard. Beefed up the coriander. And there they sit. It is not the prettiest pickling ever. I used Colman's powdered mustard - to which I am very partial, thus creating a cloudiness in the bottle.

We will taste them soon, but I have a feeling I will be making more pickles. The vines on the roof are going bonkers.


  1. That is so funny. Good thing for your merchant that you are honest...I am new to your blog and enjoying it.

  2. Delightful story! Glad you kept your eyebrows.

  3. What a wonderful tale! Good cooks always need a couple of funny near-disasters for their legends. This is a good one.

  4. I was just googling away, trying to ask to borrow a picture to illustrate a Winter recipe for B&B pickles (we'ver been snowed in, on and over for WEEKS) and found this. I just LOVE your story, and will be back often to check in.

    Thanks for the laugh---it's of the danger AND the funny factor of the time DH deep-fried the honey-injected turkey!!



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