Making pickles is so easy that it’s rather surprising how few people practice this time-honored culinary art. Apart from tasting great and looking good, pickling is a great way to prevent food from going to waste – something that often happens after we pick up a bargain bulk buy or are keen veggie gardeners. And pickles are colorful! Just the thing for adding details to fun, animal-themed sandwiches! Let’s go over the basics of pickling first and then look at some creative pickles to make and enjoy.
What You’ll Need
First up, you’ll need some airtight jars that you’ll sterilize with boiling water before use. Mason jars are a classic choice, but any sealable bottle will do, and glass isn’t your only option. An innovative plastic pickle jar design allows you to upend the jar, draining off the pickle juice during serving. Close it and flip it over, and the pickles are once again resting in their juice.
There are many variations and seasonings that can go into making pickle juice, but the basics are vinegar, sea salt, sugar, and water. Creativity enters the picture when you start creating your own pickle juice recipes. Start by following recipes and experiment as you gain confidence.
Apart from experimenting with pickle juice, you can also mix and match fruits and veggies to create unique pickles. Besides the traditional beet, cucumbers and onions, all kinds of peppers (including sweet ones) mushrooms, squashes, radishes, green beans,cauliflower, carrots, green tomatoes, and asparagus are among the many veggies you can add to your pickling repertoire. But you don’t have to stop at veggies. Strawberries, peaches, grapes, cherries, and even watermelon make unusual and tasty pickling subjects too.
Harder veggies like beets and carrots will need to be cooked a little before pickling, but the softer ones just need a light blanching to prepare them for pickling. And, once your veggies are prepped, making your own pickle combinations is a snip.
Now For a Few Pickling Recipes
Pickled Green Tomatoes
For the pickling juice use one cup of white or apple cider vinegar, a cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of sea salt. This will make enough pickle juice for two pounds of green tomatoes. While the water, salt, and vinegar are coming to the boil, prepare your sterilized pickling jars and add the seasonings to the jars. For this recipe, try 6 cloves of minced garlic with three to four teaspoons of whole peppercorns and about a teaspoon and a half of dill. Now wash the tomatoes and slice them, packing them into the jars ready for the brine. Now, it’s just a matter of adding the brine, sealing the bottles and waiting a few weeks for the pickles to be ready.
Don’t knock it till you try it! Pickle whole grapes with just the stem end trimmed off in a combination of red wine vinegar combined with half as much sugar and some salt. Season your pickle with a cinnamon stick, whole mustard seeds and peppercorns.
Mixed Pickled Veggies
This Indian style pickle combo shows just how creative pickling can be! It’s a combination of carrot, cauliflower, aubergine, bell pepper, chilli, mango, garlic and lime with turmeric, chilli powder, black mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds. It may be a little too strong for the kids, but it will be just the thing for spice-loving moms and dads. For something a little milder, leave out the chillies and hot spices and go bold with a mixture of fresh veg.
Inspired? If you aren’t already into pickling, it’s time to get started. Create your own recipes, have fun, and enjoy eating those tangy pickles!