Bread & Butter Pickles

Bread & Butter Pickles (which are actually gluten and dairy-free) have been the outstanding favourite of all the preserves we make for over 10 years. If you’ve ever tried store-bought pickles and been disappointed, this is the recipe for you. These pickles are tart, sweetly tangy, and have a gentle bite thanks to some chilli, but the very best thing about them is their crunch: if made properly, you should be able to hear someone across the room taking a bite of these crisp, crunchy cukes.

You can use any cucumbers you like for this pickle, but be aware that the juicier they are – ie if they have lots of seeds down the middle – the less crunchy they will turn out. Gherkins are brilliant if you can get them, but our favourite cukes to use are the curly, wonky Continental cucumbers you can often pick up cheap from greengrocers (they’re considered ‘less than perfect’ because they’re not straight).

Enjoy these on a grazing platter, in a burger, in a cheese sandwich, as part of a Yum bowl, with a fried Big Breakfast, or simply on top of egg and rice. This is a big batch recipe, which makes around 10x 270ml jars worth, so feel free to halve it if you want to make less; but if you’re a pickle lover, stick with the ratio here.


  • 2 kg firm cucumbers
  • 500g brown onions
  • 3/4 cup pure salt*
  • 30g yellow mustard seeds
  • 3-4g chilli flakes (omit if you like)
  • 2.5 cups white sugar
  • 750ml white vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder


  1. Wash & trim cucumbers, then slice to 2-3mm thick rounds; peel onions, cut in half then slice to your liking. Add both to a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add salt & combine thoroughly. Cover & leave on bench overnight.
  3. Wash cucumber & onion mix thoroughly; drain, then wash & drain again.
  4. Spread cucumbers & onions over a clean teatowel and use a second teatowel to vigorously rub and scrunch them until they are mostly dry. Return to the bowl.
  5. Add mustard seeds and chilli flakes and stir to mix well.
  6. Sterilise your jars and lids.
  7. In a big non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, sugar & turmeric. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, using tongs, stuff cucumber & onion mixture into jars. Pack them tightly.
  9. Using a heatproof jug, pour hot vinegar mix into jars. Use a sterilised chopstick or butter knife (dip in boiling water for a minute to sterilise), to gently jiggle & poke cucumbers & onions to dislodge any air bubbles. Top up with hot vinegar mix if needed.
  10. Working quickly so as not to lose heat, use a clean cloth dipped either in straight vinegar or boiling water to wipe the rims of jars before sealing with hot sterilised lids.
  11. Cool, label and store for a month before eating. This is to let the flavours mellow and mature. Refrigerate once opened.

Will keep for 1-2 years unopened in a cool dark cupboard. Will last several months in the fridge once opened.


  • *It’s preferable to use pure salt for preserving, as the additives in regular table salt can affect the taste and appearance of many preserves. Pure salt is salt that has no additives. Lake, sea, kosher, ‘pickling’, rock: they’re all pure.When measuring by volume rather than weight, make sure to use granulated salt though, otherwise the ratios will be off.
  • Make sure to wipe the rims of your jars before sealing. We use a clean cloth dipped in the boiling water used to sterilise jar lids. Any chunks left on the rim will prevent your jar from sealing properly, which means it can spoil.
  • Being a pickled preserve, it’s important that you work with sterile equipment for this recipe. Check out this post on sterilising jars if you’re not across this already.

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 6: Produce no waste