It’s nearing the end of a quiet, still, warm summer day. Its just about 5 p.m. The birds are still chirping, and it’s still light out, but the light is diffused; not so strong as it was just two or three hours ago. Everyone is just getting home from work or the beach, and kids are just pulling up on their bikes after a day out with friends.
And me? Well, I decide to make pickles.
What can I say… it cures what ails me. If I’m stressed or worried or angry, making something helps. When my Nana passed away I basically spent the whole summer pickling. It just kind of helped with the anxiety & grief. Same goes for that weird unsettled feeling. And it just so happens sometimes on really nice summer days… I get unsettled.
Who knows why. Either way, there’s pickles.
First of all, let me say this again: you do NOT need to be a professional or experienced “preserver” or “canner” to make pickles! I’ve said it before, but some people just don’t understand. Pickling can be done in 15 minutes, and then after a week or so of sitting in the fridge you can enjoy fresh pickles.
OH MY GOD PICKLINGISSOEASY, YEWGAIS.
And that goes for ANY kind of vegetable. Yes, you can pickle just about anything. Even watermelon rind or rhubarb.
In this batch I used cucumbers, carrots and onions. As far as spices or herbs, I used peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic cloves and fresh dill. The vinegar I used was regular white vinegar. All of these things can be swapped out or changed and additions can be made. There are thousands of combinations!
I took some skin off the cucumber in stripes to make it look fancy. This isn’t a necessary step by any means. Its just me being an ex-art student, that’s all.
GARDEN VEGETABLE “QUICK” PICKLES
- fresh vegetables of your choice, cleaned and cut into desired size/shape
- 1 cup white vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled (optional- one per jar)
- 2 sprigs of fresh dill (optional- one per jar)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Kosher or pickling salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
- Pack your vegetables into your cleaned & dried jars (this particular liquid amount will make roughly 1 quart- feel free to double or halve as needed). Add garlic cloves (if using) to the jars as well.
- Heat water, salt, pickling spice, peppercorns & vinegar in a medium saucepan until it boils. Remove from heat and pour over vegetables in the jar.
- Wipe rims & add lids, then place in the fridge. Let sit for anywhere from one week to three before eating; the longer they sit the stronger the flavor!
Like I said, you can use any veggies you want, and any spices or herbs, and any vinegar you can imagine. Seriously- anything goes! Since you aren’t canning this & it doesn’t have to be shelf-stable safe, you can even use a vinegar that’s less than 5% acidity.
Some vegetable ideas (feel free to use one, two, three or more!):
- red onion
- Vidalia onion
- jalapeño peppers
- bell peppers
- green onions
Some spice/herb ideas:
- fresh cilantro
- dried coriander seeds
- fresh or dried basil leaves
- pink peppercorns (or any color)
- mustard seed
- dill seed
- celery seed
- pickling spice
- red pepper flakes
- bay leaves
- red wine vinegar
- white wine vinegar
- rice vinegar
- rice wine vinegar
- champagne vinegar
- white vinegar
- apple cider vinegar
I’m telling you, any and all combinations have potential for greatness. They’re also incredibly versatile, and can be created to any “theme” you desire. Red wine vinegar & basil will give a very distinct Italian flavor, while rice vinegar & cilantro will add an Asian spin; maybe try it with daikon? Dill, garlic and regular vinegar will make them taste more like regular traditional pickles. You can do it however you like, and experiment. That’s part of the fun.
But the hardest part? Waiting for them to be ready!