Friday, February 6, 2015

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers...
A peck?! well I only pickled a few pints.  

I have already shared the results of my first Bread & Butter Quick Pickle efforts (link), an instant success that prompted many more batches. Then I got carried away and brewed too much hot brine, enough for two quart jars of cucumber slices plus a bonus pint each of carrots, radishes and mushrooms. The sliced radishes were day-one additions to our lunchtime tacos, disappearing before any photo op thoughts. The remaining pickled vegetables lasted only two days - clearly they were a hit as well. I have played around with the spice combination, adding some new flavors and even omitting the premixed pickling spice, and haven't had a failure yet.  

I have put up (canned) case after case of Dilly Beans and Pickled Asparagus over the years, especially during the early married period when we had a large garden. Then we moved, gave up the big garden, and boating filled up our summertime hours. Somewhere, somehow, along the way my pickling and canning efforts slowed and finally stopped. Now I'm refocused and can't wait to try pickling everything in sight; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cauliflower, green beans, celery, small onions...

Quick pickled vegetables add a welcome pop of color in addition to a tangy burst of flavor - a party on a plate! They make great appetizers and snacks, tasty side dishes, and zesty additions to pasta salads and antipasto platters. Change up the spice mix, play with new flavor combinations; add a little heat with some red pepper flakes. It's fun to experiment with pickling.    

Quick  Pickled Vegetables 
(the Bread & Butter Quick Pickle version)
 Adapted from “Your Classic Bread-and-Butter Pickles”, in Quick Pickles by Schlesinger, Willoughby and George, 2001

6 small pickling cucumbers (less than 5 inches long), sliced crosswise
1 medium onion, halved & sliced thin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar

  1. Trim both ends of the cucumbers, peel the onion and cut both into ¾ inch rounds. Add the cukes and onions to a glass jar or non-reactive bowl; toss them with the salt, cover and hold in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Drain, rinse well and drain again, then set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a microwaveable container and nuke to bring to a boil. Remove to stir and dissolve the brown sugar. Reheat in micro to return to a boil, and then pour the liquid over the cucumbers and onions. The cucumbers should be covered or slightly afloat, if not add more heated vinegar and brown sugar using the same proportions. 
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature; then cover and refrigerate. The pickles will hold for several weeks.
For the carrot version:
carrots: peeled & sliced crosswise into coins or short, uniform lengths. 
garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)

Skip the curry and turmeric; add cumin, fennel, dill or anise seeds instead

Blanch in boiling water for a minute  or two to soften; plunge into a bowl of ice water to chill and set the color. Drain and pack into clean jars. Prepare the brine as above.

For the mushroom version:
small button mushrooms or larger pieces of wild mushroom: cleaned, stems trimmed

Skip the curry and turmeric: add garlic, lemon rind, red pepper flakes and sweet or smoked paprika instead.

Pack the blanched carrots, cauliflower, radishes or raw mushrooms into small glass jars. Cover with the boiling brine and allow to cool to room temperature; then cover and refrigerate.

Pickled vegetables hold well in the refrigerator for a month or more. For longer storage use a water bath process.

I "wing it" when changing spices and haven't settled on measured quantities for these changes yet. Call it a work in progress.

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