5/24/11

Quick & Easy Pickled Vegetables

Pickled edible pea pods are delicious!
Refrigerator pickles are basically just vegetables marinated in vinegar with herbs and spices. They are quick and easy to make. Since there is no cooking involved, the vegetables are crunchy and yummy. You don't need to do any canning or seal the lids; you just mix the ingredients, fill and cap the jar, and start eating a few days later. Unlike store-bought pickles, these have no food coloring, no preservatives, and no refined sugar.

Here is a very simple recipe for making one jar at a time, which I like to with my freshly picked garden harvest:
  • 1 clean pint jar with a lid (a recycled peanut butter jar works fine)
  • Approximately 2c fresh raw vegetables, such as small or sliced cucumbers, snap beans, pea pods, pearl onions, baby or cut carrots, small or sliced zucchini or yellow squash, radishes
  • 1-1/2 t salt
  • 1-1/2 t pickling spices*
  • 1/2 c white vinegar
  • water
Measure salt and spices into the jar. Fill the jar with your prepared vegetables, tightly packed, to 1/2" from the top. Pour vinegar into the jar. Fill the rest of the jar to 1/4 inch from the top with water. Cover tightly, shake to distribute the spices, and refrigerate. After 24 hours the vegetables will begin to season; bright green veggies will begin to turn more olive colored. It takes about 2 days to fully develop the flavor. Since these are not preserved, they should be eaten within 2 weeks.

* Pickling spices can be purchased premixed. One I've used includes mustard seed, peppercorns, dill seed, cardamon, cassia, ginger, coriander, allspice, chili pepper seeds, cloves, and bay leaf. If you make your own it's cheaper, and you can customize the ingredients. Here's a simple mixture I have used:

Pickling Spice Mix
  • 1/2 t celery seed
  • 1 T dill seed (easy to grow and harvest from your own herb garden!)
  • 1 T mustard seed
  • 1 t hot pepper flakes (I save my home-grown jalapeno seeds when I dehydrate them)
VARIATIONS: Experiment! Use all one vegetable or a mixture of several. Add sliced or whole cloves of fresh garlic or a whole jalapeno to each jar. Substitute apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice for all or some of the white vinegar. Add honey or a cinnamon stick for sweetness. Use fresh dill in place of dill seed. If you follow a low-sodium diet, use low-sodium salt or eliminate the salt all together. You can even pickle hard-boiled eggs instead of veggies. Customize to your own likes and these pickles will surely disappear before two weeks pass.