This has turned out to be the summer of pickling, at least in my kitchen. I’m finding it’s a great way to use some of the produce from my farm share, particularly as I’m doing small batches. Don’t stop reading because you don’t want to get into canning – these are all refrigerator pickles, no need to process the jars once they’re packed. All of these were very easy to make, and if you do a fair amount of cooking you probably have a lot of this stuff on hand anyway. The only things I didn’t already have were fennel seeds, which I got from a friend, and dried chiles, so I just subbed a chopped fresh jalapeno.
I do recommend making these in glass containers of some sort to avoid any staining, particularly from the zucchini and radish pickles. So, I would say it might be worth picking up a few of these jars at your local hardware store – they are very handy for kitchen storage of dry goods, as the flat tops stack nicely and since they’re clear you can see what’s inside. You can also mix up dressings and marinades in them as the tops are pretty leak proof when screwed on tightly. If you’re a yard sale or flea market junkie, I’m told you can also find them that way. Personally, I don’t have the patience. Also they are a great way to infuse vodka (or whatever), which is dead easy.
The other nice thing is that these all make pretty small batches – two or three jars. You could probably scale these recipes down further if you wanted to make less, or if you had less produce. (In most cases, I made these with 2-3 weeks worth of things from my farm share, as all of the vegetables here hold up pretty well in the fridge.)
The pickles should keep just fine in your fridge for a couple of months. I recommend that you make a point of opening a jar every so often and testing one or two, because the first thing to suffer will be the texture. Once they’re mushy, they won’t be appealing anymore.
Zucchini Pickles These are quite tasty on a hamburger or a sausage. They sat for just over 24 hours before we started eating them and I think they were the best then. I made no changes to these and recommend you give them a try.
Radish Pickles These are from the book Canning for a New Generation, but someone has put the recipe online. As he notes, they do smell horrible while you’re making them and you’ll get a whiff of it when you open the jar. Don’t be deterred. They were a nice little snack on their own, and I also put them in some potato salad (something like this one), which was quite nice. I was only able to get these from my farm share for one week, and the next week no one at the farmer’s market had any. The week after that I did luck out and was able to buy the two more bunches that I wanted. But again, I could have totally scaled this recipe down.
Beer Brine Pickles I made these using Sierra Nevada. The recipe calls for “dried chilis” and since I didn’t have any and the recipe didn’t even specify what kind of chili, I subbed a jalapeno as mentioned above. They were a breeze, though I either didn’t cook the beer down enough or the recipe isn’t scaled well, as I had a fair amount of boiled beer left over. Sad.
My friend Andrea and I also made two kinds of pickles which did get canned – some kosher dill spears (from a Mrs. Wages mix) and then Dilly Beans (green beans pickled with fresh dill). With some of the leftover canning liquid we also made a couple of jars that had half an onion and half a summer squash, along with some curry powder. Kosher dills are my favorite and they smelled spot on, so I am excited to try them.