Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 2 quarts
3 1/2 pounds pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
1 large yellow or white onion
5 tablespoons salt
2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole celery seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 inch cinnamon stick
Trim the ends from each cucumber and then cut crosswise into generous 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a large bowl. Halve the onion lengthwise and then cut into wedges about 1/2 inch wide at the middle. Add the onion to the bowl of cucumber slices.
Add the salt and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar to the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Set aside, uncovered for 3 to 6 hours to draw moisture away from the vegetables. They will sweat, soften, and wrinkle.
Drain the vegetables, rinse with water, then let drain again. You want the vegetables to be salty but not overly so.
Combine the remaining 2 cups sugar, vinegar, turmeric, mustard seed, coriander seed, peppercorns, cassia bark, and chiles in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cucumber and onion. Stir occasionally to ensure even exposure to the seasonings, until the pot is just at the simmering point. Avoid boiling as that will cause the cucumbers to go limp.
Turn off the heat. Transfer the vegetables and brine to the glass container. You should fill the container. Push down the vegetables as they have a tendency to bob up. Set aside, uncovered, to cool. Occasionally press down on the vegetables to submerge them in the brine. When cooled to room temperature, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight before eating. The flavor will mellow and the vegetables will pick up a brighter yellow hue. The pickles keep well for a good 6 months in the refrigerator.