Fun Things to Pickle
If you love the briny goodness of pickled food, there is no reason to stop at cucumbers (traditional “pickles”). Many things can be pickled, including most vegetables, some fruits and even meat.
Pickling is a food preservation technique that has been used all over the world since ancient days. There are different methods of pickling, but basically, all rely on creating an environment that kills harmful bacteria with either salt or vinegar.
For the longest shelf life at room temperature, the pickling process is quite lengthy and complicated, requiring canning and boiling. But you can use a shorter, easier process as long as you keep the final results refrigerated.
When the sweetness of fruit meets the sourness of vinegar, a whole new taste sensation is born. Pickled fruit is a nice change from fresh fruit, and makes a satisfying accompaniment to a light meal of bread and cheese.
There are hundreds of recipes for fruit pickles, and just about any fruit can be used, but the following recipe is an easy, delicious introduction to pickling, and you can try it with a variety of fruits.
You will need:
- Clean pint or quart Mason jar
- Two whole pieces of fruit from any of the following: pear, apple, peach, plum
- ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, slivered
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 sprig fresh mint
- Slice all of the fruit into thin slices.
- In a glass or stainless steel saucepan, combine water, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Mix the fruit slices together with the ginger, then place the fruit into the Mason jar.
- Add the mint to the fruit.
- Slowly pour the hot vinegar mixture over the fruit, covering it completely. The liquid should be almost to the top of the jar.
- Screw the jar’s lid on tightly, and let the pickles cool to near room temperature.
- Place the jar in the refrigerator, and let the pickles sit for at least two days before opening. Keep refrigerated when not using the pickles. The fruit will stay good for a week or two once opened.
Pickled pig’s feet are a well-known delicacy in the southern states, but you can pickle many types of meat. Pork, beef, chicken, turkey and fish are all acceptable, as long as the meat is firm enough to hold together, and does not have bones.
You will need:
- 1 gallon freezer bag
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh, skinless, boneless meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup kosher or pickling salt
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 8 ounces ice
- Combine all ingredients except for meat and ice in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat, and simmer for three minutes.
- Remove from heat, add ice and stir.
- Place meat in the freezer bag, and pour in the cooled pickling liquid.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Mix the meat around so it is covered with the liquid.
- Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least three days, turning occasionally.
- The meat will stay good for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it.
Just because “pickle” tends to be synonymous with pickled cucumbers doesn’t mean you can’t pickle lots of other vegetables with equally delicious results. As long as you choose crunchy vegetables, they will hold up to the pickling process very well. Use your pickled vegetables in salads, on sandwiches or for snacking.
You will need:
- Clean quart Mason jar
- One pound of vegetables cut into small pieces or strips. Choose any of the following, or a mixture of: baby carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, okra, pearl onions, bell pepper, hot pepper, eggplant.
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1-1/4 cup cider vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt
- 1 bay leaf
- Pack the vegetables into a clean Mason jar. There should be around ½ of space at the top.
- Toast the mustard seeds and pepper in a small saucepan for two minutes. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and bay leaf.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.
- Pour the brine over the jarred vegetables, covering them completely with liquid.
- Let the jar sit out for an hour to cool, then seal tightly, shake lightly, and place in the refrigerator.
- Let the pickles sit for at least a day, and up to a week before eating. They will stay good for up to a month if kept refrigerated.
If you love the sour, salty taste of pickles, you’ll enjoy expanding your repertoire beyond the standard cucumber. With so many foods to pickle, you’re sure to discover a few new favorites.