Practising for summer: Pickles!

Fermented foods: enjoy some every day

Many of you are probably getting underway with your summer gardening plans. Be sure your plan includes things you can pickle!

Fermented foods are great for you. And there’s one quick and easy way to make certain you have some delicious fermented products with every meal: pickles. (Note: these are not fully fermented — they get a boost with vinegar and refrigeration).

Pickles and olives are part of every meal in the Middle East. When they’re this easy to make, why would you ever get canned? Better yet, when you make your own, you can season them exactly as you’d like.

For the batch of pickles you see pictured here, I used Persian cucumbers, the small, thin, denser variety I can often find in my neighborhood. Regular pickles will work just as well. In fact, you can pickle almost any firm veggies in this way.

A couple of my favorites are cauliflower with red cabbage – or turnips with a beet. Sometimes I throw carrots in with my regular pickles for the color, and the carrots pickle nicely as well. Pieces of red bell pepper or colorful whole mini-peppers work the same way.

One more word about the pickles you see in the picture: I love spicy things. Not everyone does in my world. That’s why I made two jars of pickles to have in the ‘fridge: one has hot peppers in it and the other doesn’t.

For the hot peppers, habanero work perfectly to spice up the whole batch. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any so am trying red “finger hot” peppers. They weren’t hot enough for me last time, but I thought I might give them another chance.

I can't wait 'til these are ready! I've got my ingredients together (except the garlic) and am ready to go.
I can’t wait ’til these are ready! I’ve got my ingredients together (except the garlic, vinegar and salt) and am ready to go.

PICKLES

Ingredients

  • Pickles, 8-10 large, green & firm Persian pickles (or any other firm veggie in about the same amount)
  • Garlic, lots – about 8-10 large cloves
  • Dill, lots – a good-sized bunch
  • Hot pepper/s – to taste (I prefer habanero and would use 2 or 3 for this size batch)

BRINE

  • Water, 4 cups
  • Vinegar, 1 cup
  • Kosher salt, 3 TB

Directions

  1. Use clear, clean glass containers for your pickles. I prefer a glass lid as well so I can re-use it. The metals lids require too much care. Be sure your containers have a wide mouth.
  2. The glass container I used for these pickles was a 2 quart container. That means you might need a recipe and a half of the brine per two quart container.
  3. Clean all veggies — those you are pickling as well as the dill and peppers.
  4. Put plenty of fresh dill in the bottom of the container along with garlic slices. Add veggies, layering if appropriate, fitting in more dill and garlic slices wherever you can.
  5. Top off with more dill and garlic.
  6. Pour brine over the contents in the jar until it reaches the top of the jar. Be certain everything is completely submerged.
  7. Close the lid and place in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.
  8. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. I have had them as long as six months. They still seemed fine, but I thought it best to make a new batch. Usually they don’t last more than a couple of weeks in my house.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

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