Why This Recipe Works
We wanted a bread-and-butter pickle with a crisp texture and a balance of sweet and sour—perfect for adding to a char-grilled burger. Most recipes combine cucumbers and onions in a spiced, syrupy brine; we cut back on the sugar and added red bell pepper for its fresh flavor and color. Cucumbers can lose their crunch when processed in a boiling water bath; we found that combining several crisping techniques gave us the best results. We tossed our sliced vegetables in salt to draw out excess water.
We added a small amount of Ball Pickle Crisp, which helps keep the natural pectin from breaking down, resulting in firmer pickles. Finally, rather than processing in a boiling-water bath, we employed a technique known as low-temperature pasteurization, which involved maintaining our pickles in a hot-water bath at a temperature of 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes—in this temperature range microorganisms are destroyed and pectin remains largely intact.