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I’ve still to meet the one person that doesn’t like pickles. Pickles are already deeply rooted intro American culture and they seem to be to everyone’s liking. And why not? Not only do they make pretty much everything taste better, but they’re also exquisite on their own. The most common pickle in the U.S. is the cucumber, but you can pickle almost every vegetable imaginable: carrots, beets, green tomatoes, okra etc. And there are alternatives to canning, you can store them in the fridge just as easily. Let’s take a look at the easiest way of making awesome in-house pickles.
Get the veggies ready to pickle
Wash the vegetables carefully and cut them in the desired shapes or sizes. I personally recommend chopping them in thin slices, so that they are easier to reach for and snack on in case you feel like it. 🙂 Some vegetables will perform extremely well during the pickling process if they have been blanched (briefly boiled in water) previously. Blanching is excellent for green beans, ginger, peppers, okra and Brussels sprouts. But cucumbers, turnips or tomatoes shouldn’t be blanched at all. If you have your heart set on blanching, this is how you do it: in a boiling pot add 16 cups of water per pound of prepared vegetables. After the water reaches boiling point, add the vegetables and cover with the lid. Let them cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Next place the boiled vegetables into a container filled with ice cold water, which you’ll drain afterwards.
Sort the vegetables
Once you’re done with preparing and blanching (if necessary) the veggies, you can sort them out in 6-pin size (2-cup) canning jars, or same size containers made of heatproof plastic or tempered glass. Make sure the ones you buy come with leads and can be tightly sealed. You can also use cans instead of jar-like containers, if you plan on storing the pickles at room temperature.
Adding flavorings comes down to personal taste. There are plenty of recipies around for both dry and fresh flavorings, but if you feel like experimenting, go ahead. The sky’s the limit and you may come up with a million bucks recipe that could make you rich! But for now, here are look at 2 tasty examples for both fresh and dry flavorings:
Fresh flavorings (amount per pint jar): 1 fresh Habanero (or Jalapeno) pepper, 2-4 sprigs sliced or whole Dill, 1/2 whole large clove, sliced Garlic, 2 – 3 inch strips fresh and peeled or 1/2 teaspoon prepared Horseradish, 1 sprig fresh Oregano, 1 tablespoon sliced Shallot. The overall taste of the pickles will be will by spicy and satisfyingly fresh.
Dry flavorings (amount per pint jar): 1 Bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon Celery seed, 1 – 3 small whole Dried Chile peppers, 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seed, 1/2 teaspoon Dill seed, 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seed, 1/2 teaspoon Pickling spice, 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric. This recipe gives absolutely delicious pickles, and the unique taste is one of my personal favorites.
Making and adding the brine
The next thing you need to do is to prepare the brine. It’s basically salt water, which will help preserve and add flavor to your pickles. The mixture can be prepared according to personal taste. You can make it sweet, sour or in between. And this is how you do it:
Sweet pickle brine (6 cups): Mix 3 cups of distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 of cups water, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a large saucepan (or similar pot). Once the mixture starts to boil, stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Let it boil for 2 – 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Sour Pickle brine (6cups): mix 3 cups of distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 of cups water, 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sea salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large saucepan. Once it starts to boil, start stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Boil for 2 – 3 minutes more and remove from the heat.
After you’re done making the brine, all is left is to fill the jars or cans with the concoction. Pour the brine to within half-a-inch if the rim of the jar or can, so that the vegetables are completely immersed in it. If you’re making fridge pickles and using jars, you should refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving (turnips and okra require a minimum of 1 week). In this case, the pickles will last in the fridge before spoiling for about 1 month. If you’re planning on storing canned pickles at roomed temperature, they will last for about a year if the optimum conditions are met: preparing the pickles according to the process, respecting the terms and conditions of storage and seal tightly each can.
Pickling your own vegetables is fun and easy to do. And it’s a skill you might want to get accustomed to, because the way the economy is heading, pickles could become a rare good rather than a commodity. So making your own it’ll be the only available option.
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