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Pickle It

Pickling is an ancient art of preserving foods using a brine solution. It has evolved today into delicious recipes that take your creations as far as your imagination will go. Additions to your own pickling spices can include cinnamon sticks, fresh dried ginger, chilies, and allspice berries.

Note: Yield amounts may vary depending on fruit and vegetable size. It’s a good idea to always wash and sterilize a couple extra jars and have them ready. Read canning directions in advance that come with your jars or lids/rings and sterilize properly.

BASIC DILL BRINE FOR VEGETABLES
2 quart-size jars, with lids and rings, sterilized
6-7 cucumbers
10-12 small peppers, such as banana, jalapeno, red peppers
2 Tablespoons vinegar
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon whole mixed pickling spices
1⁄2 teaspoon whole mustard or celery seeds
4 bay leaves
2 small bunches fresh dill
1 qt. water
1⁄2 cup sea salt

Use any mix of vegetables for this basic brine recipe. Wash cucumbers and peppers and drain. Cut cucumbers into spears and thin slices, if desired. Pack cucumber shapes into one-quart jar and peppers in another. Add half the garlic, vinegar, pickling spices, mustard or celery seeds, bay leaves, and dill to each quart. Bring water and salt to a boil and pour over vegetables, filling each jar to within 1⁄2 inch of top. Seal at once. Let stand in refrigerator at least one week before using and use within 2 or 3 weeks. Makes 2 quarts.

PICKLED CAULIFLOWER
6 pint-size jars, lids, and rings, sterilized
3 heads cauliflower
3 cups sugar
3 pints white vinegar
3⁄4 cup salt
Small piece of cheesecloth
1/3 cup mixed pickling spices
4-6 hot red peppers

Tie pickling spices in a bag made of cheesecloth. Separate cauliflower into small clusters, removing long stems. Sprinkle salt over the cauliflower and allow to stand overnight. Use a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil. Add spice bag and boil for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pickling spice bag. Pack into hot, sterilized jars, adding liquid to within 1/2 inch of top. Place hot pepper in each jar and seal according to canning directions. Makes 4-6 pints.

PICKLED SNOW PEAS
4 quart-size jars, lids, and rings, sterilized
4 lbs. snow peas
2 qts. white vinegar
1⁄4 cup salt
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 cups water
Small piece of cheesecloth
3 Tablespoons pickling spices

Tie pickling spices in a bag made of cheesecloth. Wash peas and remove ends and any strings. Steam 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water immediately after steaming. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pack peas in hot, sterilized jars. Pour strained hot vinegar mixture to within 1⁄2 inch of top. Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes. Makes 4 quarts.

PICKLED YELLOW SQUASH
8 pint-size jars, lids, and rings, sterilized
8 cups yellow squash, sliced thin and unpeeled
2-1⁄2 cups small pearl onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 Tablespoon canning salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon mustard seed

Combine squash, onions, salt, and pepper. Let stand about an hour, then drain. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes and cool. Pack in jars with squash and liquid, filling each to within 1⁄2 inch of top. Seal according to canning directions. Makes 6-8 pints.

WATERMELON PICKLES
Cheesecloth
2 qts. cold water
1-1/2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons allspice
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
8 pieces of 2-inch cinnamon sticks
1⁄2-inch piece ginger root
3 qts. watermelon rind
1 qt. fresh water
1 qt. white vinegar
4 lbs. sugar

Make limewater by mixing cold water with lime juice. Pack allspice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and ginger root in cheesecloth to make a bag. Select thick rind from firm watermelons that are not too ripe. Trim off the green skin and pink flesh. Cut into 3- or 4-inch spears to make 3 quarts of rind. Soak for one hour in limewater. Drain, rinse, and place rind in a large clean pot, boiling until fork tender. This should take about 10 minutes. Drain. Place spice bag, vinegar, one quart fresh water, and sugar in a pan; bring to a boil. Add rind and boil gently until syrup becomes thick. Add a little more water if syrup becomes too thick. Let sit for a few minutes. Remove spice bag. Pack pickles in hot, sterile prepared jars and fill jars with liquid to within 1⁄2 inch of top. Seal. Makes 6 pints.

Coming Next Month: Mouthwatering Melons

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