By: Elizabeth Geboy
Wondering what to do with the pounds of farmer’s market carrots, onions and other crisp vegetables as fall comes to a close? Pickle them! It’s a great way to preserve their color and flavor, while changing the vegetable enough that it will become a new food. This simple base is a standard pickling recipe, but it’s got room for adjustment. Think about using apple cider vinegar instead of distilled white, add whole peppercorns and bay leaves in addition to the mustard seeds. Keep your pickles packed tight in a jar in the back of your fridge, where they will go untouched while you wait for the bright vinegar to infuse the other vegetables.
Basic pickle brine:
1:1 ratio of water to distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard seed per every cup of liquid
Other possible spices: bay leaf, hot chili peppers, coriander seed, dill, whole peppercorn, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, cinnamon stick, fresh lemon rind, curry powder
Carrots, cucumbers, daikon, green/red/yellow bell peppers, kohlrabi, green beans, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, hot peppers, fresh ginger
Cut the vegetables to fit your jar. You can create long cucumber spears or tall carrot sticks, round sliced onions or daikon half moons. Pack them in tightly, alternating layers if using multiple kinds of vegetables. Fill the jar halfway with vinegar, and add your spices. Top off with water, and screw on the lid of the jar. Leave it in your fridge for at least 24 hours and up to two weeks, depending on how pickled you want the vegetables. Thinner vegetables, like onions, will pickle more quickly than chunky ones, like carrots and cauliflower.
If you’re looking to pack heat into your vegetables, add in a few fresh hot chilies into the pickling mix. The heat can be controlled depending on what type of chile you’re using (habanero is the hottest, banana peppers are much more mild, and jalapeños run in the middle), but also by what part of the chile you put in. The heat hides in the seeds and ribs of the chile pepper, so by removing these the heat will be subdued.
To de-spice your chiles, slice the chile in half, and use a paring knife to remove the ribs, seeds and pith. Be careful- make sure to wash your hands well and not rub your eyes after removing the hot parts of the chile!
Pickles go good on just about anything. Try these ideas:
- Grilled white cheddar cheese with pickled onions and cranberry sauce
- Toss pickled carrots and radishes in salad
- Top a grilled sausage with hot pickled cauliflower, celery and peppers
- Use the leftover brine as a french fry dip, instead of malt vinegar (and save it for reuse)
- Skewer carrot, cucumber, and cauliflower slices to finish a Sunday brunch Bloody Mary
- Make your own pickled ginger for sushi (leave out the mustard seed from the brine)
- Pickled onion relish: chop up the cucumbers very small before you store them in the fridge, then spread it on a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon
I’ve heard that cucumber pickles and peanut butter make a good sandwich… but that’s for you to try!