We are in high summer mode around here. Which means, among other things, that we acquire more produce from our CSA than I really feel like wrestling into meals. Especially since I don’t make dinner any more! (Kidding! Sort of.)
|By the next day, they've camouflaged themselves in an army-issue kind of a way. Not adding to the overall look, and not pictured here, is the shower cap covering the jar because I broke the glass lid.
So I’ve been pickling stuff. And there are two benefits to this: 1) We love pickles, and if there is a jar of pickled something in the fridge, everyone will dig in, whereas unprepped veggies can languish until you pull from the fridge a bag of brown slime that’s exhibit A in an exposé about the irony of the phrase “crisper drawer.” And 2) Pickling preserves your produce and sanity, which means it slows everything down so that you have enough time to eat something before it rots.
There’s a very simple formula, and with it you can pickle (nearly) all things: asparagus, radishes, sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and even, yes, cucumbers (although I prefer a cuke method that uses a little fermentation). Are you ready for it? Pack clean veggies in a clean canning jar with whatever flavorings you like (fresh herbs, chiles, whole spices, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, shallots, ginger, strips of lemon or orange zest). Bring equal parts water and white vinegar to a boil, along with 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of vinegar. Pour the brine over the veggies. Cool. Refrigerate. Done. (Note: I am not talking about canning here. If you’re just making small batches, these will keep perfectly well in the fridge until they’re eaten.)
|Summer ransom note. (I think the kids are making a movie.)
One thing: make more brine than you think you need! For a quart-sized jar, I bring to a boil 2 cups of water, 2 cups of white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of salt. (Okay, 3 tablespoons of salt. Not to mess up the ratios, but because I often like to up the salt a little.) Yes, there’s some leftover, but I’d rather that than have to make a whole nother extra ¼ cup of brine to cover the last inch of vegetables.
|Summer sewing project.
But then again, I’m the person who will nearly abandon a sewing project if I run out of thread right near the end, because tying it off and starting a new piece just to stitch up that last inch makes me cry.
|The official dilly bean recipe is here.
|If you are serious about pickling and preserving, then I trust you frequent the fabulous Food In Jars blog. I love her.
Now, that said, you might finesse the recipe on certain occasions. For example, for the sugar snaps, I cooled the brine before pouring it over the peas because I wanted the peas to stay sweet and snappy, and boy did they. These are among the best pickles I have ever made or eaten, or we’ve been slicing them into tuna salad, where they add the most incredible crunch and zing and sweetness.
|The official dill pickle recipe is here.
On the opposite end of things, I like to put green beans or sliced carrots in a colander and pour a kettle full of boiling water over them before packing them in a jar and adding the hot brine, because I like them to be a bit more tender. But you can experiment and see what works best for the different veggies you’re pickling.
|Summer herbs drying.
Seasoning is the fun part, and here are some of my favorite combinations:
- Asparagus with tarragon and chopped shallots
- Radishes with chopped ginger, a splash of soy sauce, and a little sugar
- Sugar snap peas with garlic, mint, hot pepper, and a whisper of sugar
- Green beans with garlic, hot pepper or black peppercorns, and dill or tarragon
- Broccoli or cauliflower with garlic, chiles, lemon zest, and cumin and coriander seeds
Also, you should note that many (most?) pickle recipes will call for white wine or cider vinegar. Please use whatever you like best! For me, it’s the clean, sweet flavor of white vinegar, even though I know it’s, like, a petroleum by-product or distilled from corn cobs or whatever.
|Summer berries. Not pictured: summer spider bites; summer abstracted grumpiness; summer mildewy towels; summer not getting enough work done; summer house coated in damp greasy dust; summer eating too much Fritos.
Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
If you have fewer peas, just scale down accordingly! And skip the sugar if you like. I happen to like the way it emphasizes the sweetness of the peas.
Enough sugar snap peas to fill a 1-quart jar, ends snapped off and strings pulled off
1 dried red chile or a pinch of chile flakes (if you like)
3 or 4 small sprigs of fresh mint (or dill or tarragon)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups water
Pack the peas into the jar along with the chile, herbs, and garlic.
Heat together the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar just to dissolve the salt and sugar, then stir in the cold water.
Pour the brine over the peas and refrigerate.
Try to wait at least a day before eating, although they’re good right away.