…is what I said one day when I got bombarded with lots of amazing fresh produce. Thanks to my partnership with LA Salad Company, I got my hands on loads of fresh beans and squash. More than I could possibly eat. Since pickling is a classic preservation technique, I thought what the hell? I’ll try to make pickles! I love a good cucumber pickle, but you can pickle all sorts of veggies, so my experiment involved baby zucchini, green pattypan squash (which look like little flying saucers) and yellow wax beans. I also threw in 1/2 of a red onion, because it seems like they’re always making red onion pickles on “Top Chef.”
I cut the baby zucchini and pattypans in half, thinly sliced the red onion, and cut some of the longer yellow wax beans in half.
There are gazillions of pickling recipes out there, with various degrees of difficulty. I looked at dozens of them, and basically found that they fall into two camps: those that require preserving equipment (like mason jars and canning supplies) and those that don’t. Since I don’t have any of that stuff, I chose the latter. Ultimately, my pickles won’t keep for months on end, like those in a sterilized and tightly sealed mason jar would, but I can live with that. Pickles don’t last for months on end in my house anyway.
Since I don’t have mason jars, I had to figure out which containers I would make these pickles in, and that required confronting my highly unorganized Tupperware cupboard.
I settled on two deep, narrow containers with good lids. I wanted narrow, so most of the veggies would stay submerged, and they were narrow and could hold a lot.
Time to make the brine! After looking at tons of recipes, I based my brine on this Chow recipe, mainly because it seemed simple, and I already had all of the ingredients. Kind of. (More on this in a bit.) You may have all the ingredients as well!
- 1.25 cups apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 bay leaf
The Chow recipe also called for 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns and 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds, but I had neither (I have a fresh pepper grinder, but it’s a cheapie non-refillable kind, so I can’t get whole peppercorns out without grinding them). So, instead, I added:
- 1/2 teaspoon (roughly) ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
- 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon dried dill (because it seemed silly to make pickles without dill)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (because I saw other recipes that called for whole coriander seeds)
I don’t know about flavor, but the main visual difference between using whole seeds and ground spices is that ground spices make your brine murky. If you were using mason jars, you might not be able to see the pickles inside because the brine turned so brown. Not so great if you were giving them as a gift or putting them on display, but I planned on doing neither, so I didn’t really care.
This makes enough brine for 1 pound of veggies. Since I had a ton of veggies, I doubled the brine and used my food scale to weight out exactly 2 pounds, which I then divided evenly between the two containers.
All the brine ingredients went into the sauce pot, and I heated it over medium until it came to a boil. Stir it, too, so the salt and sugar dissolves. Then I transferred it immediately to the containers, using a ladle so I wouldn’t spill it and make a mess. I made sure each container got a bay leaf and 2 garlic gloves.
I gotta be honest, the brine didn’t fully cover the veggies. It probably would’ve had I used a slightly smaller container that would’ve required the veggies to be more tightly packed, but that wasn’t the case. I quickly added about another cup of hot water to each and gave it a stir.
They stayed out on the counter for about an hour, until they cooled to room temperature, and then the lids went on and they went into the fridge. The Chow recipe says that pickling may take anywhere from 1 day to 1 week (probably depending on the veggie you’re using), so I played it safe and waited 5 days before pulling them out. (Chow also says that they’ll keep for a month, which is good info to have.)
The brine got cloudier and murkier during that time, but man oh man, the pickles are delicious.
They’re crisp and tender, and super flavorful without being too spicy, too sweet or too sour or briny. The wax beans are my favorite, because they’re the crispiest, but nothing is soggy or mushy.
The onion is great, too. I don’t eat it by itself, but I’ll wrap a little slice around another veggie for an added kick.
My pickle experiment was fun, easy, and the hardest part was waiting for the pickles to be done! It was worth it, though, to have another way to eat veggies.
Keep it up, David!