I’m officially a week and a half into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and happy as a clam. After a few days of plodding through bullet points, I separated my list into two partitions; the first, “one time” or “jumping off” points if you will (like camping at Joshua Tree or making my own candles), and the later ended up as a culmination of ideas that I want to spend the year progressively getting better at (reading sheet music, relearning French and my weekly yoga practice). What seemed like a series of mountains instead of molehills magically transformed into a full fledged plan of attack. First up, something I’ve been itching to try since I started infusing olive oils – making my own pickled vegetables!
One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is combining my love of amazing foods – in this case, all things pickled (cucumbers, olives, mushrooms, quail eggs – you name it, I love chowing down on it) – with my addiction to easy and affordable DIY projects. I sifted through cookbooks and did a fair share of online searching, and there are a gaggle of pickling recipes out! Take your time and bounce though a few different websites to get your bearings on the matter. The way I see it, cooking is a lot like art – you can color between the lines and follow the instructions perfectly, or you can think outside the box and create something new. Don’t be afraid to combine bits and pieces of recipes from multiple sources, because that’s exactly what I did and it turned out phenomenally.
There’s a few different things to take into account as you begin: What type of vegetables are you planning on pickling? Some veggies – like cucumber and onions – can be tossed into your jars from the get-go; but for veggies that land on the sturdier side (potatoes, mushrooms, carrots), you’ll want to blanch them first so they don’t lose any coloring or flavor. Don’t worry, I’ll explain below! Would you prefer them to be savory and full of dill? Want to kick up the spice and add some chilis? Or, would you rather they land on the sweeter side? If you plan on using multiple containers, you don’t have to make that decision – which is perfect for someone like me who simply wants it all. Now, you have the luxury of switching things up at the leisure of your taste buds, so get down with your bad self and spice each one as desired.
Vegetables: if you like bar snacks or a heavily garnished Bloody Mary, you might want to get a little wild with this.
What I Used
- 1 Cucumber
- 2 Carrots
- 1 cup Pearl Onions
- 3 Israeli Pickles
- 1 Cup Small, Whole Mushrooms
- Tunes – this week’s soundtrack comes from Jody Wisternoff of the Progressive House duo Way Out West. I’ve been a fan of the group for a few years now but it wasn’t until recently that I was turned onto the solo ventures of Jody or the other half of WoW, Nick Warren. Whether together or on their own, they provide a beautifully calm soundtrack to your endeavors.
Brine: You can make as little or as much brine as you’d like, just remember this – it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar.
- 4 Cups Water (If you local tap water is a little cloudy, use bottled)
- 2 Cups White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
- 1/8 cup Salt (non-iodized; if you want to get fancy – pickling salt exists)
- Fresh Dill
- Mint Springs
- 1/2 Cup of Garlic Cloves
- 1 large Sauce Pan
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- cucumber peeler
- Canning or Mason Jars (old Spaghetti Sauce Jars work, too!) + Lids
- salad tongs (optional)
After a few trial rounds, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the pickle rhetoric and I can fly solo without instructions in front of me. I can’t wait to share, so let’s get this pickle party started!
- Put your basic brine (vinegar, water and salt) into a large sauce pan; bring it to a boil for two to thee minutes as the salt dissolves. Take brine off of heat and let it cool to room temperature. As you’re waiting…
- Wash, slice and dice your veggies to fit your jars
- Take the sturdier veggies and blanch them for two minutes: heat up some water with a teaspoon of salt, throw ’em in then toss them into an ice bath when you’re done.
- Add your spices to the containers, then layer your vegetables on top; you can make each jar unique, or you can make them splash with color and mix them all together. Make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch so the brine can cover them completely!
- Once the brine has cooled, pour it into your jars and shove them to the back of your fridge. Depending on how impatient you are (or how much of a flavor fiend you fancy yourself), you can let them sit for anywhere between 10 hours and 2 weeks, depending on how long they fermented you can keep them for a month (quick brine) or four.