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How to Pickle Just About Anything

Posted by katenealecooper
June 18, 2014
Featured in: Guest Posts
How to Pickle Just About Anything

~by

Hello! My name is Angela and I'm the voice behind the food blog www.The-Chefs-Wife.com, where I write about the ins and outs of owning an NYC-based artisan sandwich company, Mayhem & Stout.

Come summer, Sunday mornings mean only one thing: a trip to our local farmers’ market. During the warm weather months, the market is a showcase for the senses. The subtle scent of fresh clipped herbs perfuming the air, the folding table displays of deep purple and white eggplants, the wooden boxes displaying heads of buttery lettuce, and the pint containers filled with tiny, sweet assorted berries all send my culinary imagination into serious overload. Although I know I only need a few items, visions of fruity galettes, sweet summer gazpachos, and giant bowls of dark mixed greens win me over every time. Soon, curly ramps and vibrant tomatoes literally spill from my canvas market tote as I carry home a significant amount more than my two-person household actually requires.  

How to Pickle Just About Anything

And while many of my culinary musings do indeed come to fruition, by the end of the week — no matter how many recipes I whip up — there are always at least a few sad, wilted items hanging out at the bottom of my crisper drawer. Though it is certainly tempting to say so long to these items by tossing them into the compost bin, my culinary imagination can’t help but dream up a second life for them. Almost always, the answer comes in the form of pickling.

While pickling sounds scary and can certainly summon images of intimidating canning equipment, all you really need are a few basic kitchen tools (a small saucepan, a few mason jars, and maybe a spoon or two) and a little bit of time. This season, when you find yourself stuck with on-the-way-out produce, transform it into a quick and unique table pickle that can dress up a summer salad or side dish or be eaten straight from the jar.

The first step in creating an easy, at-home pickle is making a brine – a flavorful, acidic liquid that quickly transforms otherwise common veggies into sweet, sour pickles. The good news is that there is no real set-in-stone recipe for making brines. In a small saucepan, add about 1 cup of “clear” vinegar (such as white wine, rice or cider), ½ cup of water and about 3 tablespoons of sugar.

From there, you can add nearly any combination of herbs and seasonings that you like (some of my favorites include citrus zest, whole peppercorns, chili flakes and various tea bags). Bring those ingredients to a boil.

How to Pickle Just About Anything

 

Meanwhile, chop up the produce of your choice and add it to a clean glass mason jar (anything hardy, such as chard stems, onions, peppers, cucumbers, beets, cauliflower and rhubarb stalks will do the trick). Once the brine reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes before pouring it into the glass jar, being sure to cover the produce entirely. Then, simply allow the brine to cool to room temperature, tightly seal the lid and pop the jar in the fridge, where the pickles will keep well for about two weeks.

 

How to Pickle Just About Anything

Pickled Chard Stems with Mustard Seed

2 large bunches of chard, leaves removed
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

Thoroughly rinse the chard stems. Trim their ends and remove any remaining leaves with a sharp knife. In a large saucepan, blanch the stems for one minute. Immediately drain the stems and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process.

How to Pickle Just About Anything

Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. In the meantime, tightly pack the chard stems into a glass jar and set aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the jar, being sure to cover the chard stems completely. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickles will keep well for 1-2 weeks.

How to Pickle Just About Anything

Pickled Radishes with Black Peppercorns

1 large bunch of radishes
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Thoroughly rinse the radishes and their leaves. Remove the leaves and store them for later use. Trim the ends from the radishes and set aside.

Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, tightly pack the trimmed radishes into a glass jar and set aside (depending on the size of the radishes, you may need to use two glass jars). Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the glass jar, being sure to cover the radishes completely. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickled radishes will keep well for 1-2 weeks.

How to Pickle Just About Anything
Pickled Fennel with Orange Zest

1-2 fennel bulbs
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 Tablespoons orange zest

Slice the fennel into very thin slivers. Thoroughly rinse the fennel and set aside.

Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. In the meantime, tightly pack the sliced fennel into a glass jar and set aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the jar, being sure to cover the fennel completely. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled,  the pickles will keep well for 1-2 weeks.

Want more? Follow Angela on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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