I feel a great affection for pickles. At home, in Idaho, where we have a regular sized fridge, I usually keep about 6 various jars of pickles open and ready for consumption. After a long day in the studio, I walk into our house, kick off my shoes, open the fridge and pull out a pickle jar, spear one with a fork, and sit down to eat one of the chilly little guys. They are so wonderfully refreshing. I prefer a pickle to a piece of chocolate. I prefer a pickle to a cold beer! Robert cannot comprehend it, but doesn’t question it since it leaves most of the chocolate to him. The beer too.
In point of fact, I like pickles so well that Tater Tot has the honorary nickname “PICKLE WART” — did you know that?
This year, at the Little Cabin In The Woods, I have been canning. I didn’t think it was possible to can with an electric hot plate (with really only one burner) so I didn’t attempt any preserves last season which I grew to deeply regret over the course of winter. In addition, there was the marinara kitchen carnage of 2012 at the smokejumper base mess hall that some of you will recall. It sort of put me off my preserving projects for the year…to say the least.
This year I’ve made more peach jam than we’ll be able to use (which means I get to give jars of it away to friends), peach lavender jam too, 30 jars of marinara sauce (so far), zucchini pickles, pickled beets and regular old cucumber pickles. I’m just getting started! Once canning season begins, I’m like a tornado in the kitchen. It’s utter madness. Delicious madness.
I wanted to share with you the three pickle recipes I have been using these past few weeks. They’re all easy peasy lemon squeezy. Buckle up, buttercups:
This is my favorite pickle recipe, by far. I eat these babies straight-up, chopped up on salads, on steamed rice — throughout winter…
10-15 small fresh beets
2 cups cider vinear
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup peeled small whole onions
2 tsp pickling salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
[If your beets are medium or large, it's fine. A beet is a beet.]
1. Cut the greens off your beets. If you are using small beets, you can use the greens in a salad!! Pop them in a pot, cover with water and boil them over high heat for about 40 minutes or so. Check to see if they are finished by stabbing them with a fork. Drain and rinse under cold water and rub them gently to remove the skins and the stalk stumps. If you are using larger beets, cut them into smaller pieces (whatever size you prefer).
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a pot, bring to a boil, stir occasionally to dissolve sugar.
3. Remove your squeaky clean jars from your canner! Divide onions, caraway seeds, mustard seeds evenly among your jars and then pack in your beet pieces.
4. Pour your vinegar mixture over beets to within a 1/2 inch of the rim of the jar. Screw on your lids and submerge the jars in your canner bath. Boil for 35 minutes.
*If I have more beets than I have vinegar mixture, I just whip up another batch of vinegar mixture or I eat the leftover beets. No biggie. I usually do four batches of beets at once to make it worth my time.
*I like this recipe because these cucumbers don’t need to soak in brine overnight.
16-20 small pickling cucumbers
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
a handful of fresh dill heads (the yellow blossom part) — I like to put about 2 in each jar because they are delicious and beautiful
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp mustard seeds
1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber.
2. Prepare your brine by combining vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a pot — bring to a boil.
3. Remove your clean jars from your canner and place 1 or 2 dill heads, 1 or 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp mustard seeds in each jar, pack with cucumbers and pour boiling vinegar mixture over top of jar contents. Screw on your lids and boil for 15 minutes.
*I know! Unheard of! This is a great recipe to use if you’re overrun with zucchini in your garden, which, is usually always.
2 lbs zucchini (ish)
1 tsp pickling salt
1 3/4 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
a handful of dill heads (for beauty, of course)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper and dried thyme for EACH jar
1. Cut zucchini in strips (it looks nice if you cut them the length of the height of your canning jar), sprinkle with salt and let stand for 4 hours. Drain and rinse twice.
2. Mix vinegar, water, sugar, dill, parsley, pepper and thyme in a small pot, bring to a boil and stir until your sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove your clean jars from your canner where they have been boiling, pack your zuchini spears in the jars and pour the boiling vinegar mix over the jar contents to within a 1/2 inch of the jar rim. Screw on your lids and boil for 20 minutes.
*These turn out kind of sweet and spicy with an interesting texture that is quite different from a cucumber pickle.
There you have it!
Now that you know how I feel about the humble pickle, if you have a killer recipe please do send it my way!
Bless your little beets,