What is the Difference Between Sweet Pickles and Bread and Butter Pickles?

Who knew there were so many types of pickle? According to the Pickle Primer by Pickle Packers International, there are four main categories of pickle, with countless variations. Pickles are often produced in three methods: refrigerated, fresh-pack, or processed (which implies there is curing or fermenting involved). What's the difference between sweet pickles and bread and butter pickles?

Well, it turns out that bread and butter pickles are simply a subset of the sweet pickle category, so you can feel free to swap them into any sandwich you're making without fear!

Here's a quick pickle primer:

  • Dill: The most popular kind of pickle, made with fresh dill. "Kosher" pickles are the most common deli find, and dill weed is added to the pickles in the final stages of fermentation. Other kinds of dill pickles include Polish and German style.
  • Sour/Half Sour: These are pickles made in a brine that doesn't contain vinegar. The half sour pickles are left in the brine for about six to eight weeks and are not fully fermented. They're also referred to as "new dills."
  • Sweet: These pickles are made in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, water, and spices. The following types of pickles are categorized as sweet.
    • Bread and butter: Tangy and bright green, these pickles are the famous thinly-sliced chips, smooth or waffle-cut, that you'll often find on cheeseburgers at fast food places.
    • Candied: These are pickles that are packed in an extra-sweet brine, often a syrup.
  • Pickled Peppers: Jalapeños, banana peppers, cherry peppers, pepperoncini, etc. can all be pickled in the same method as cucumbers.

No matter what route you choose for pickling, you'll end up with some delicious (and often long-lasting) pickles that add an extra something special to that boring sandwich you brought for lunch. Experiment with different spices and herbs, as well as various types of vinegar, to find your perfect combination.

Check out these seven recipes for pickling and impress your friends with your peck of pickled peppers.

1. Bread and Butter Pickles

Teacups And Cinnamon

These bread and butter pickles have two cups of sugar, as well as mustard seeds, celery seeds, ground cloves, turmeric, peppercorns, and garlic, for a complex flavor profile that packs a punch. You can substitute any vegetable you like for the bell pepper as long as you keep the ratios the same. Get the recipe.

2. Easy Quick Pickles

Chowhound

Turns out there aren't a lot of things you can't quick pickle. Can we pickle that? Why yes, you can, according to the folks on IFC's Portlandia. Make a basic brine (vinegar, peppercorns, mustard seeds, water, sugar, salt, and a bay leaf), and then choose between any of your favorite vegetables. This recipe calls for carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, and okra. Get our Easy Quick Pickle recipe.

3. Garlic Dill Pickles

Chowhound

Once you try making your own garlic dill pickles, it will be hard to pick up another store-bought jar again. The full two tablespoons of fresh garlic and freshly chopped dill make the flavors really stand out, and you can experiment with different types of vinegar (the recipe calls for distilled white vinegar) to change up the taste. Get our Garlic Dill Pickles recipe.

4. Sweet Garlic Dill Quick Pickles

Let It Simmer

If you want to try something different, this recipe calls for a Suyo Long cucumber (originally from China) and a sweet onion. You can use any thin-skinned pickling cucumber, but be sure to leave about a half inch of room at the top of the jar to allow the mixture to cool properly. Get the recipe.

5. Momofuku Kirby Cucumber Pickles

Chowhound

These sweet and salty Kirby cucumbers from Chef David Chang are the perfect gateway pickle. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a month, and they're ready in only about an hour from start to finish. Get our Momofuku Kirby Cucumber Pickle recipe.

6. Spicy Carrot Pickles

Soy Sugar Sherry

Why limit yourself to cucumbers when you can pickle carrots too? Cider vinegar, cinnamon, bay leaves, hot chilies, cloves, thyme, and peppercorns are used to pickle the freshly scrubbed carrots (you can fit about 10-15 small carrots in a jar). Get the recipe.

7. Candied and Pickled Jalapeños

E Is For Eat

If you’re sick of sweet pickles, try this recipe for candied jalapeños. Slice up fifteen jalapeños in 1/4 inch rounds (and be careful about rubbing your eyes, etc. when handling the seeds!). You can use these immediately, but the flavors will further meld after leaving them in the refrigerator for a few days. Great on nachos or deviled eggs. Get the recipe.

Head photo illustration by Chowhound, using: Inside NanaBread's Head/Brown Eyed Baker.

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