I LOVE pickles. I could sit down and eat a whole jar all by myself. And I have. And like most things in my life, I eventually decide that I’d like to know how to make it in order to save money, control the ingredients and have some fun. Pickles were much easier to make than I thought. I’m going to share what I did with you. There are SO many options that this could be a whole blog series, but I’m keeping it simple for now.
I bought a set of Ball canning jars on Amazon.com and they were delivered to my door. I bought these neat, vintage blue ones.I hand washed the jars and then boiled them (three at a time) to sanitize them. I set up a cookie sheet with a towel on it to catch drips during the drying process and to give the jars a sturdy surface to rest on.
I gathered the ingredients:
Crushed Red Pepper
And what you want to pickle….I used mini cucumbers, cauliflower, and peppers.
Once all the jars are clean, drop in a clove of garlic in each as well as 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Make sure you peel the garlic cloves. This can be tricky, but if you place the blade of a knife over the clove (flat side) and hit it with your hand (be careful) the glove will separate from its peel.
Next, fill up the jars with the vegetables (about 3/4 way full).
In a pot, boil five cups water, five cups vinegar and 7 tablespoons salt. Once it’s boiled, pour, or ladle it into the jars. Screw on the lids, wipe down the jars and then put them back into the boiling water (where you boiled the jars previously to clean them). Keep them there about 10 minutes or until the lid tops doesn’t move when you push it down…this means there is no air in there.
Wait 1-3 weeks (at least) and voila, you have PICKLES! This particular variety is a little tangy and spicy, which I love.
Want more ideas? Here are some books that can help.
The Best Little Book of Preserves & Pickles covers lots of helpful tips and creative recipes. Many are easy to do and lots are old fashioned recipes you probably grew up with. I particularly love how this book covered using sugar substitutes and how to utilize organic and local foods. THIS is the book I’d go to when making more gifts!
For those who grow their own food, shop at farmer’s markets or even belong to a CSA, Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding is a go to book. The book covers how to preserve food and have fresh, nutritious meals and foods for you family, long after the snow has fallen. This book doesn’t assume to know your skill set. It goes over techniques such as blanching, freezing, pressure cooking and a lot more. I never know how to make syrup or jam before reading this book. Now they seem attainable. As we all try to eat healthier and closer to home, this book is a must read.
Finally, The Joy of Pickling is the encyclopedia of pickle recipes. It’s clear, beautiful pages are full of ideas and creative recipes. Again, I love the chapter on getting started, technique and the WHY behind pickling. The book covers everything from quick pickles, pickling meats, and other flavors you didn’t even know you were craving. This book will help you make some amazing gifts but it following some of the recipes will also give you some amazing things to serve at your next dinner party. I particularly love the pickled prunes. A go to book if you want to start pickling or step up your game!