Spring and summer are full of amazing produce and as hard as I try I just can’t eat enough to keep up with the surplus of food from not only my own garden, but from those of friends and family (I know, I know, life is tough). You all know how much I love to bake, and eat baked goods, but sometimes you have to put down the butter and flour and eat something else, even I concede this is true. Now, I’m not a big fan of jam (unless it’s in cake, them jam on), so pickles are my go to way to use that produce. At the risk of sounding too Portlandia, you really can pickle most anything. I’m not a huge fan of canning either so I make quick pickles, they last for months in the fridge, or minutes if you bring them to a summer bbq.
My favorite is rhubarb. You might be confused, but it makes the best pickles, seriously. The sour quality of rhubarb pairs with the vinegar, salt, and sugar and goes with nearly anything. I don’t have a set recipe for pickles, I do use a standard ratio though. 1:1 water and vinegar coupled with 1:1 sugar and salt. Then use 1:16 water and sugar. So what that translates to is 1 T sugar for every 1 c water. You can then add in your herbs and spices as you choose. I made a batch recently and added cloves, allspice, cinnamon, bay, and red pepper flake, the warming spices coupled really well with the rhubarb. When I make cucumber pickles, I use coriander, whole black peppercorns, bay and sometimes rotate in star anise and fennel. You can dump the spices in with your brine, or wrap them in cheesecloth so you don’t have to pick them out of the pickles. I fluctuate back and forth, depending on their use (and sometimes if I have cheesecloth around the kitchen or not). The other thing to consider is which vinegar to use, because part of preserving is making sure you have created something that is safe to eat. It is typically recommended that pickles have a certain pH (the exception to that is lacto-fermentation, but that’s a different discussion), and while we have a pH meter where I currently work, I don’t have one at home, and most restaurants and professional kitchen don’t either. So, my default is to use distilled white vinegar for pickling, occasionally substituting apple cider vinegar if I want to change the flavor.
- 1T sugar
- 1T salt
- 1 c water
- 1c white distilled vinegar
- aromatics; coriander, peppercorns, bay, cinnamon sticks, clove, allspice, etc.
- adjust ingredient quantities for amount of produce to be pickled
- bring all ingredients to a boil
- let steep like tea for at least 10 minutes (you can leave it for hours if you like, but bring it back to a boil if you wait longer than 10 minutes)
- pour hot liquid over prepared produce, weight with a plate or bowl to keep produce under liquid
- let cool completely before covering
- refrigerate and enjoy the next day