Bread and butter pickles are one of my favorite cucumber pickles. I like a little red pepper in my pickles, but you can leave it out or add a little more.
4 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 large onion, quartered, sliced about 1/4-inch thickness
1/3 cup kosher salt
3 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, or use half pickling spices
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
Wash cucumbers and cut off the ends. Slice crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with the salt and onion slices; cover with about 4 to 6 cups of ice cubes. Cover and let stand for 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.
Prepare the boiling water bath. Add water to a large canner with rack and heat to about 180°. The water should be high enough to be at least 1 inch above the filled jars. I usually fill it about halfway and I keep a kettle or saucepan of water boiling on another burner to add to the canner as needed. Wash jars thoroughly and heat water in a small saucepan; put the lids in the saucepan and bring almost to the boil; lower heat to very low to keep the lids hot.
Drain the cucumber mixture. In a large pot (nonreactive) over medium heat, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumber mixture and bring to a boil. With a slotted spoon, loosely pack the vegetables in prepared jars. Ladle the liquid into jars, dividing evenly among the jars. With a clean damp cloth (I keep a little bowl or cup of the boiled water handy for this step), wipe away any drips around the rims of the jars then cover with 2-piece jar lids. A lid lifter comes in handy to get the flat lids out of the water, or you could use tongs. Adjust the screw on rings firmly but do not over-tighten. Place filled in the prepared boiling water bath, adding more hot water as needed to bring the water up to about 1 inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Lift the jars out of the water and place on a rack to cool.