It seems that pickles have come into their own. Everyone, from chefs at the uber cool new restaurants to the hostess of your next bar-be-que are completely pickle obsessed. And I’m getting in line with them. Especially this kind of pickling. It’s so cool, you’re just gonna love it! (Excited jumping up and down) NO COOKING! I repeat…..No Cooking. No bringing brine to a boil and coughing from vinegar fumes, no giant pot of water that took forever to boil, no water baths, no burnt fingers, no waiting for the little lids to go pop, none of that. These are in the category called quick pickles. They only keep for tops a month, but seriously, that’s not going to be a problem. They’re crispy, and crunchy, they taste like pickles, but they taste like the vegetables you used. Cucumbers, and carrots, asparagus and green beans. Grapes. Yeah, grapes. We’ll get to those another time. But anything you’d like.
So here’s the deal. You stir together this brine, which by the way you can adjust to suit your own whims, you stuff the jars with all your wonderful veggies and flavors, you fill the jars with brine, you put the lids on, you put them in the refrigerator. You can start munching the Next Day! How easy is that? You can add hot peppers, garlic, herbs, ginger (got an Asian inspired one working in my brain, rice vinegar, ha!) spices, seeds, ok, ok, I’ll stop. But really, this is great. How lovely would this be, you spend a short amount of time one evening, or whenever you have the urge, and the next time you go to dinner you bring a sweet ribbon wrapped jar of pickles as a little gift. Ok, a little too Martha, but hand-made is very cool. No one is going to turn down a jar of anything that you made, especially pickles. Once they eat them, you’re going to have people pulling you to the side wondering when they can get their next fix, I mean jar.
So what I did here was cucumbers, some call them Kirby cucumbers, or pickling cucumbers, choose your name. I just know that I’ve been eyeing these little babies for a couple of years now, wanting to make pickles, but really not wanting to get so involved with the whole canning thing, no matter how good my bread and butter pickle recipe is. I cut some into spears, and put garlic and red and green jalepenos for a bit of heat, cumin seed, and a little dill as a reference point. I chopped some into chunks and used garlic and tarragon, and another with classic garlic, a few cloves and lots of dill. I had six or seven of those little carrots on hand, so I decided to stuff them into a jar as well. They’re waiting for me in my fridge. I’m out of town this week end so I’ll have to wait a few days to try them. I’m also going to bring a few jars to a dinner I’m going to on Wednesday next. I know my friends will be happy to see them. It’s just my opinion, but anyone that laughs or is snide about anything you spend your time making and then extend as a gift, you need to seriously rethink. I’m getting out my ribbon. What is that Martha says? It’s a good thing.
1-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
2-1/2 cups water
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. (If you don’t have Kosher salt, you can use sea salt, but don’t use iodized kind.) Mix in the water. I did this in a pitcher so I could pour it easily. I always seem to catch the ladle on an edge and dump it everywhere…sigh. Fill your jars with vegetables, tucking the garlic, peppers, and herbs down along the sides. Drop in any seeds or leaves, peppercorns, cloves in and then pour the brine over and seal ’em up. Refrigerate. Remember to refrigerate.
And above all, don’t forget, adjust as you see fit. You want to keep the acidity to about 5%, but you might want to tinker a bit with the formula to suit your own taste. A 1/2 cup replacement of apple cider vinegar for some of the white vinegar would add softness and tangy sweetness. Don’t forget all the vinegars out there, mix and match, but know that the lighter color ones will keep the vegetables looking just like what you put in there. Some of the others might darken them a bit, but also might do wonderful things to them. Have No Fear! I was also wondering about making a really spicy one, maybe with habenaro peppers and jalapeno and honey, might be a nice foil for all the heat. See…just go have fun.
Tell me what you make! I can’t wait to hear your combinations. And whether or not you gave some as gifts and the reactions. Do tell!
Adapted from many articles, but my brine is closest to Food & Wine’s Grace Parisi, Perfecting Quick Pickles.