Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Pickle Like a Rock Star

This year I signed up for a CSA in my neighborhood. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture - you pay a farmer up front in the spring, and every week from May to Thanksgiving or so you get a box of food from the farm.

I've had ridiculously delicious tomatoes in my house since June, and since it's basically been a blind date with vegetables all summer, I've been learning to play nicely with zucchini and eggplant. Well, trying to learn, anyway. There were cantaloupes as big as my head in July, some of which I ate, and some of which turned into Cantaloupe Gelato. I've also had more cucumbers than I knew what to do with.

Pickling to the rescue!

victorian pickle bookmarks by barking-madcrow

I know it's past cucumber time in this hemisphere, but here's my fridge-pickle recipe anyway. This is the recipe I used for 5 or 6 biggish regular (not "pickling") cukes - and the basic brine should work as well for just about anything that would taste better or last longer all vinegared up.

Slice cucumbers thickly and layer them in a bowl with sprigs of dill and cloves of garlic. I go heavy on the dill, mostly so it won't go to waste.

Mix up 2 1/2 Quarts (10 C) of water, 1/2 C salt and 1 C cider vinegar

adulterate this as you like with black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes.

Bring the brine to a boil, turn off the heat and pour it over the cucumbers. Let the bowl cool to room temperature overnight on the countertop, and then put the bowl in the fridge.

Start tasting your pickles after a couple of days - optimum pickle magic for me was about 10 days in, but your taste buds may vary. If you want to keep your pickles at room temp all year long, jar them up and process them in a hot water bath. I'm no expert on this part, though I do know that the high acid from the vinegar makes pickles one of the safest things to can. Check Putting Food By or the Ball Book for better instructions.

Enjoy!

1 comment:

m. sputnik said...

blind dates w/vegetables!

the best way to date eggplant and zucchini is to extract most of the water and replace it with salty spiced olive oil, mmm vegetable candy
http://www.msadventuresinitaly.com/blog/2007/07/16/eggplant-melanzane-sottolio/

i love those pickle girls.