What Puts The 'Bread' In Bread And Butter Pickles

bread and butter pickles
bread and butter pickles - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

Apart from being a classic pairing and a staple accompaniment for countless meals, bread and butter is also the name given to the uniquely sweet pickles born in the Midwest. As history reveals, bread and butter pickles were the product of the kind of necessity that breeds resourcefulness. When Illinois cucumber farmers Omar and Cora Fanning came up short on their earnings during a hard year in the 1920s, they decided to make use of a throwaway crop of small cucumbers by pickling and selling them. They used a sweet-and-sour pickle recipe that had been in the family for generations.

The pickles were a major hit with the surrounding community, and many locals exchanged goods and services for them. The local grocery store paid the Fannings for their sweet pickles with household staples, namely, bread and butter. Thus, the name bread and butter pickles was coined in honor of this barter transaction. On a more metaphorical level, the "bread" in bread and butter pickles could also refer to the successful living the two cucumber farmers ended up making with this resourceful side gig business. Furthermore, with the stock market crash of 1929, bread and butter pickles became a popular condiment in Depression-era sandwiches. Some recipes use sweet crunchy pickles as the main sandwich filling between slices of bread slathered with butter or mayonnaise, and still others pair them with peanut butter sandwiches!

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Best Pairings For Bread And Butter Pickles

peanut butter and pickle sandwich
peanut butter and pickle sandwich - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Unlike sour pickles, aromatic cornichons, or savory dill pickles, bread and butter pickles are predominantly sweet, thanks to the addition of sugar and vinegar to cucumbers after an overnight stint in salt brine. They still use savory and spicy seasonings like peppers, onions, celery, and mustard seed, so you get an interesting trifecta of sweet, sour, and savory with each crunchy bite.

The sweetness works well with robust umami flavors like pork, hamburgers, olives, cheese, and cold cuts. They're a common fixture at barbecue restaurants to accompany a plate of smoky ribs or add to a pulled pork sandwich. They'd also make a great addition to hot dogs or a cheese and charcuterie board. You can serve them in coins alongside a bowl of olives in a tapas spread with ham croquettes, patatas bravas, and manchego cheese.

Chop them up and mix them into a mayonnaise-based potato salad. Bread and butter pickles would bring a sweet and sour complement to a pimento cheese sandwich. Use them instead of dill pickles to accompany deli sandwiches like corned beef or pastrami on rye. They're also the perfect pickle for breading and frying into pickle chips to dip in ranch or comeback sauce. Even the obscure, retro peanut butter and pickle sandwich has seen a revival, featured in well-known food publications.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.