Quick Pickles

QUICK PICKLES

July 5, 2021 

Before you get toooo into the pragmatics of preserving for winter by means of pickling, start by dipping your toes into the foundation. Pickling is a method of acidifying alkaline or basic (low acid) vegetables—say, green beans, which are pretty neutral on the pH scale at 6.5-7.0, or radishes, which clock in at 5.5-6.0. So to pickle something means dropping its pH to a stable acidic level of 4.2 or lower. Now enter stage right—the brine (aka the science and the magic,in our kitchen)! Its standard build is vinegar + water + salt. Like any culinary endeavor, in order to achieve a safe, nutritious, and delicious end, the structure has to first be in place; then you get to choose your own adventure. Here, the brine is our structure. You’ll start with the exact measurements for the brine, bringing it to temperature to dissolve the sea salt, and from there we will guide you to play with flavors. [Important note: We don’t need the iodine or anticaking additives in table salt nor the fine crystals of pickling salt, since we’re boiling the brine; good ol’ mineral-heavy salt of the sea has always been the way and continues to be the best ally in your preservation kitchen.] Make observations to bring with you the next time you do this, and the next time, and the next time. And that’s how your house recipe is made! Notes I suggest are varieties or kinds of vegetables, where and when you got them, brands of vinegar and spices, flavor notes and who in your house likes it and who wants a different flavor profile, saltiness, kind of vegetable, etc. Soon enough, you’ll have your own rendition of {your name here}’s Homestead Pickles to give as gifts, barter with, and of course feed yourself and your family. A key advantage to preparing for the quick pickle is making more of the spice blend that you need and working through the tools you want on hand if and when you are ready to get the canner going for a sealed batch for the pantry! All of these blends and recipe suggestions are safe for water bath canning and if you would like to take it there, please see the times and altitude adjustments at the end of the recipe. 

Quick Pickles in Basic Brine

Make sure you have a sanitized quart-size or two pint-size jars and lids in your possession. Our best advice otherwise is to invite friends and queue up the playlist of pickling tunes before commencing the pickle party.

YIELD: 1 quart or 2 pints of pickles

Ingredients:

Spice blend (optional; see variations below for guidance and feel free to experiment)
1 pound vegetables (let’s choose beans here cause if you grow beans… then you know)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Opportunities for flavor & fancy: 

Turtle Rock Classic Dill Blend (our go-to on the farm for cucumbers and green tomato pickles):
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons dill seeds
3 bay leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Country Classic Blend (we use this for dilly beans or garlic scapes):
1 tablespoon chile flakes
2 tablespoons dill seeds 

Thai Spice Blend (created for beans and found to be wonderful with cucumbers and radishes):
1 tablespoon granulated garlic 
1 tablespoon granulated ginger OR two 1/8-inch slices of fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried lemongrass
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon chile flakes

Instructions: 

1) Mix together the spice blend of your choosing and put 2 teaspoons in the bottom of each pint jar or 1 tablespoon in the quart. Reserve remainder for other flavoring needs and to have on hand for the extra handful of veggies from the farmers market or what’s coming in from the garden. 

2) Clean the vegetables. In the case of beans, trim to remove stem end and fit the length of the jar, leaving 1” headspace below the rim. In the case of cucumbers, the most important piece to trim is the blossom end (the opposite of the stem end) because it contains an enzyme still that will likely make your cucumbers mushy as they pickle. This is one of the top ways to avoid mushy cucumber pickles! That and choose fresh, crisp and not off the vine for more than 3 to 4 days. 

3) Pack the vegetables into the jar(s) until they are snug but not so tight that you have to jam the last bean in. If you have to make it work, it’s not working—just leave it out.

4) Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil on the stovetop, stirring to make sure salt is dissolved, and immediately turn off the heat. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, or until 120°F (49°C) if you have your thermometer handy.

5) When brine is at temperature, pour over the top of the beans, leaving 1/2” headspace from the rim of the jar. 

6) Cap the jar and let cool for 1 hour on the countertop before refrigerating. Leave the jar in the fridge for at least 24 hours to let the pickling magic take place. Ideally you will stand by for 48 hours before cronching on them for salad toppings, lunch snacks, and cheese plates (or to tide you over while you make dinner, because how did you get home from work so late??). These beauties will last for 2 months in the fridge.

 

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