Learn how to preserve everything you might find at a farmers market — or in your own backyard — with the clear, easy-to-follow direction you’ll find in Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014) by Cathy Barrow. Recipes for delicious ways to eat up your stores are interspersed throughout the canning, smoking, curing and brining instructions, which progress from the easiest to the most complex recipes. The following quick pickle recipe is from chapter 1, “The Basics of Water Bath Canning: Answering the Siren Call of Seasonal Abundance.”
You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry.
Pickles are sexy and spicy and hot and cool, with tantalizing flavors and textures: crunchy, tart, and salty. Quick pickles turn vegetables into something entirely different. Even odd bits: two carrots, half a fennel bulb. Cauliflower. Sweet peppers. Each one reimagined and emerging from the brine as a new and different food. Or mix and match vegetables based on color or texture or just what you have in the crisper. When I make quick pickles, it's all about the presentation. I want very pretty produce and I want to perfect size jar for the job. To quick pickle any vegetable, think in terms of ratios — equal parts water and vinegar, salty and sweet additions, herbs, spices, and chiles. There are no hard-and-fast rules. Serve quick pickles as a condiment, side dish, or topping for any salad. I always have a jar of pickled serrano and jalapeño rings in the refrigerator. Pickle an onion tangle with shallots, red onion, and sweet onion, then use it to top tacos or fried rice.
• 8 ounces (225 g) vegetables or chile peppers
• 1 cup (8 oz., 240 ml) nonchlorinated water
• 1 cup (8 oz., 240 ml) white or cider vinegar
• 2 garlic cloves, slivered
• 1 tablespoon (0.3 oz., 8 g) kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon homemade pickling spice, or store-bought (optional)
1. Prep the vegetables or chiles. Peel and remove any mushy parts and cut into equal-sized chunks if necessary. If you want to leave jalapeños, serranos, and other hot peppers whole, pierce each one with the tip of a knife three or four times. Fill a quart jar with the vegetables or chiles.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, and pickling spice, if using, and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour the warm brine into the jar. Because you are not processing these pickles, the headspace is not critical, but do make sure all the vegetables are submerged. If they are floating above the brine, insert a smaller jar into the large jar to push the vegetables down into the brine. Let cool, then cap the jar.
3. Some foods, like thin-sliced onions, will be ready in 20 minutes. Others, like chile peppers, may take 3 or 4 days. Taste to judge the progress: a good pickle will be salty, acidic, and crisp. Most vegetable quick pickles will get sharper, tangier, and more pickled (and less crisp) every day, but the texture will suffer after 2 weeks. They should be discarded after a month.
Reprinted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow. Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Barrow. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Buy this book from our store: Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry.