Pickles are one of life’s great mysteries. I don’t quite understand why or how they are so awesome. They just are. They can add so much to a dish. They’re fun to eat. And, they’re a lot simpler to make than I would have thought. I’ve tried to make pickles a few times before. I’ve followed recipes and made up my own. Nothing worked. I tried with raw veggies and lots of apple cider vinegar. Nothing tasted good. So I was a little apprehensive when I was thinking about pickling for a post… But, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
It all starts with some veggies. I chose steamed beets (because I’d tried to pickle raw beets once… nope, not a good idea) and raw cabbage. I used them because that’s what I had on hand. But, I think that with this particular brine, I might also try carrots, cauliflower, radish, green beans, greens, leeks, cucumber, or onions. I’d steam any root veggies and cauliflower, but I’d probably leave the rest raw.
For the brine, I went with white vinegar and rice vinegar. I like their mild flavors. I also added some water, salt, and honey. Water to dilute a bit, honey to counter the sharp vinegar, and salt, well, because I like salt (and I think you’re supposed to use salt when pickling, although this was just plain table salt, not pickling salt).
I added a few extras, based on the veggies I was using. To go with the beets I used: garlic, orange zest, and peppercorns. With the cabbage I used garlic, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns. You could also add dill, chives, fresh ginger, or lemon zest, depending on the veggie to be pickled.
I let them sit for about a week and a half in the fridge before trying them. I don’t know if I needed to, but I did.
Now that they’re open, I’ve eaten the pickled beets 3 days in a row. I just can’t get enough. Tim even tried one the other day and didn’t hate it. He wasn’t crazy about the texture of the beets (they’re soft, like they are when steamed), but he really liked the flavor of the brine. For me, the beets are exactly the texture I was hoping for. They’re tender and vinegary with just a hint of sweet. And the cabbage, it’s gone. I ate it. All. By. Myself. I tried it raw, I added it to a stir fry, and I added it (and the pickled garlic) to some lentils and topped it with a fried egg, paprika, cayenne, and chili powder. I can’t wait until the next time cabbage comes in our Abundant Harvest Organics box. I know exactly how I want to use it.
- 3-4 C any: beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radish, green beans, greens, leeks, cucumber, onions; chopped, shredded, sliced, quartered (depending on type of veggie)
- 1 1/2 C vinegar (white vinegar and rice vinegar)
- 1 1/2 C water
- 1 T + 1 t salt
- 1 T + 1 t honey
- 1/4 C any extras (choose based on veggies using): peppercorns, garlic, dill, chives, fresh ginger, lemon zest, orange zest, red pepper flakes
- Sterilize jars and lids.
- Steam any root veggies or cauliflower until tender (about 20-30 minutes, depending on the veggie) and then cut as desired. Leave things like cabbage, green beans, greens, leeks, and onions raw.
- Bring brining liquid (vinegar through honey) to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Place extras in the bottom of the jars, place veggies in the jars, packing fairly tightly but leaving about an inch of space at the top. Pour brining liquid over, filling to cover veggies. Wipe the rims and cover with the lid. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate.