A little bit of everything that came out of my summer 2014 vegetable pickle jar: cauliflower, red bell pepper, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and one bay leaf! in some jars, there are sliced jalapenos. The pickling mixture is a salt water brine plus a bit of vinegar.
They have been about 2 weeks in their pickle, and are pickle perfection right now: crisp crunchy sour and salty. Perfect for the first heatwave of the season.
The fetching little shocking pink jewels below, are diced pickled turnips: its hard to explain exactly why they are so luscious: I mean: a turnip? but oh, what happens to a turnip in its salt water and vinegar brine: it gets crisp, and tangy, and turns a flattering bright pink (from the addition of shredded beets/beetroots). I added a few cloves and a hunk of mildish hot pepper for flavour, too. You can’t tell its either clove or chile, but it just gives a bit of depth.
Both of these pickles are at their best chilled until crisp and COLD, eaten as part of a summer mezze or even breakfast: with feta or other white cheese, freshly baked bread or flatbread, sliced cucumber and maybe a handful of fresh herbs like dill, mint, tarragon, coriander. You can just eat the pickles out of a jar–remember not to double dip your fork, you’ll want to if you’re like me–or you can put the pickles out on a plate looking really really pretty, like a summer pickle party, like this plate below which has both the pickle selection plus the pink turnips:
A snapshot of my pickle shelf: the chillies, the turnips, and behind them is the jar of mixed vegetables. Sitting in the sunshine for a few days with the light streaming through them, they are beautiful, like stained glass.
If the weather is quite sunny, however, at some point I put them into the refrigerator, or into a cool dark shelf; the heat from the sunshine on hot days is strong enough to “cook” the vegetables, and i want them to remain crisp and snappy!
And since it would be cruel of me to show you my pickles, then not tell you how to make them, following is a recipe of sorts. The important thing is 1. the size of the jars 2. the ration of the salt-water-vinegar.
And no, i never measure but will give you measurements here; after a few times you can take it way and make it your own.
My Mixed Pickles of Summer
Really, these are just a riff on giardiniera, most delicious for their freshness. These are short-keeping pickles, which should be refrigerated once ready–a few days–after starting off in a sunny window. They only keep about 2 weeks if we’re following the rules, but you know: i use so much salt in my pickles that I don’t worry about nasty bacteria–not sure they can withstand it!
About 4 jars, aprox 2 pints/ 1/2 lires each, with lids
Salt as needed (about 6-8 tablespoons)
about 1 cauliflower, broken or cut up into small bite sized florets
2-3 carrots, either sliced or cut into short sticks
2-3 celery stalks, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cabbage, cut into small chunks
2 red bell peppers, cut into bite sized pieces (or similar amount red romano peppers)
1-2 onions, cut into bite sized chunks
6 garlic cloves, cut into slices or slivers
a small piece of fresh chile or hot pepper, sliced, as desired
4-8 bay leaves
Optional: 1/2 tsp turmeric
Optional: about a teaspoon mustard seeds
Vinegar, any kind, as needed (about a cupfull in total)
Prepare the jars and lids by either running through the dishwasher, or washing then pouring boiling water into each jar, taking care to place a spoon or other metal utensil in the jar to keep it from exploding or breaking.
When cool enough to handle, pour out the water.
Into each jar place about a tablespoon of salt, then start layering the vegetables, a few pieces of cauliflower, carrots, celery, cabbage and so forth, sprinkling with a bit of salt as you go until you reach the top, somewhere along the way adding the bay leaves; when you reach the top add the turmeric and mustard seeds if using.
Pour cold water over the vegetables until the liquid is about half to 2/3 way up the side of the jar, then finish up with vinegar until it reaches the top. Finish by adding a spoonful of salt to the top, then close each lid.
The vegetables will be fermenting and will be short-lived pickles; the liquid may leak, and you’ll want to open it every so often to be sure that they have enough liquid; add more water or vinegar if they don’t, and sprinkle the top with salt so that any vegetables that bob up above the liquid line won’t rot; once the top vegetables go bad, the whole jar goes bad and needs to be thrown away.
These vegetables keep about 2 weeks according to sources of safety, but really, they have so much salt in them, I feel they are safe for much longer. I have been eating through the jars for several weeks already; if there is any food biochemist out there, please let me know. I was all of us to be safe and happy, and i know we can’t be happy unless we are EATING PICKLES!
Once they have pickled themselves, keep them chilled in the fridge because they are at their best crunchy cold!
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
About 4 2-pint/ 1.2 litre jars (alternatively, you can use smaller jars; that way you only have one open at a time).
About: 1 kg/ 2 1/2 lbs turnips, preferably fresh and crisp; youngest are best because their insides are firm and crunchy
3-4 raw beets/beetroots or if only cooked and vacuum-packed beetroots are available, use them
About 6-8 tablespoons kosher salt
Vinegar–any kind, as needed
Optional: a few mildy spicy chillies, a few whole cloves or allspice berries per jar
Wash and peel the turnips. If you cut them into chunks they will pickle themselves pink much sooner and be easier to fish out of the jar. You can pickle them whole, it is traditional, but i have long gravitated towards the chunk sized pickles. Also its easier to put them into the jars. So after you wash and peel the turnips, cut them into thick slices or bite sized chunks, say, a little larger than a big fat grape or about the size of a quails egg, or slightly smaller than a hens egg. Or any size you want.
Prepare the jars and lids by running them through the dishwasher, which is easiest and most effective, or washing well and then pouring boiling water into each jar and lid, with a metal fork or spoon in each to conduct the heat so that the jars don’t break. I don’t have a dishwasher so i always just use boiling water.
Pour out the boiling water and you’re ready to go once the jars have cooled enough to handle.
Meanwhile, bring a lot of water to the boil; i suggest an electric kettle because i am in love with mine.
Now, into each jar place a tablespoon or two of the salt, then start to pack in the turnips and a little beets; when you get about a third of the way up, add another spoonful of salt, then continue with the turnips and beet/beetroots. Two thirds of the way up, you’ll want to add some more salt, then more turnips and beetroots. Along the way stick in the chillies and cloves or allspice berries.
When you get to the top, Pour boiling water about two thirds up, then add enough vinegar to reach the top, above the turnips.
Finish with a last spoonful of salt, then when it is cool enough, close the lid. You won’t need to do anything else. these pickles will be alive as they ferment, and every so often you will need to see what level the liquid is at, adding more water or vinegar, and topping with another bit of salt so that the vegetables, if they rise above the liquid level, are salted and therefore pickled, and not rotten. If they rot, your whole jar is spoiled.
When they are tasty and crisp, you will want to transfer them to the fridge as these salty crunchy pink jewels are at their most delicious when they are CHILLED.