If you’ve been paying attention to me at all in the last 11 years, you know I like to pickle a few things here and there. But not everyone is willing or able to buy a half bushel of produce, drag out canning pot, and spend the better half of a day steaming up their kitchen to make 42 jars of ginger carrots, star anise daikon, or spicy pepper rings. And you know what? You don’t have to. With enough veggies to fill a few quart jars (or just one; simply scale this recipe down), you’ll have jars of homemade pickles that are ready in a few days and last for weeks in the fridge – if you can keep your mitts out of them and not eat the whole jar right away.
Don’t be shy about experimenting here. If you only do one jar and don’t like the way it tastes, you’re out maybe 20 minutes and a handful of carrots. Big deal. Do it again. The pickles in the photo above are just bits and ends I scrounged up from the garden/farmshare and played around with. From left to right, we have hot pepper rings (just brine and salt, no herbs); eggplant done with balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano, and red pepper; dilly beans; carrots with garlic and black peppercorn; onions with coriander and a little sugar; and more of the same eggplant (I was experimenting with fresh garlic vs. dried; fresh was better).
Refrigerator pickled vegetables
Adapted from Food Network/Ted Allen
For the brine:
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups white vinegar
6 teaspoons kosher salt
Several sprigs of fresh dill or dill seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have ’em)
For the vegetables – any combination of:
Kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
Young spring carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
Cauliflower to tuck wherever they’ll fit
Jalapenos or other long peppers (cut into rings if large)
Daikon, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
Baby pattypan squash or zucchini
Beets, peeled and blanched
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water, the vinegar, and the salt to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.
In 2 quart jars or 4 pint jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Place a few cloves of garlic in each jar. Then pack the jars full of veggies. You want them to be tightly stuffed.
Pour brine over the vegetables to cover completely, let cool, then cover and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good the next day, better after a couple of days. And they’ll keep for about 3 months.
- Vary the vinegar if you want; try white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic, etc.
- Play with spices. Consider red pepper flakes, dill seed, oregano, ginger, star anise, cumin seed, clove…