Tag Archives | refrigerator pickles

Quick Pickle Cookbook Recommendations

Our month of quick pickles for the Mastery Challenge is underway. While there is PLENTY of information about quick and refrigerator pickling available on the internet, I also have a short stack of books to recommend in case you’re hoping to dig deeper. (Amazon | Powell’s)

  • Pickled by Kelly Carrolata (Amazon | Powell’s) – This book runs the pickling spectrum. You’ll find everything from a class dill pickle to refrigerator herring. There are some recipes here that are designed for the water bath, but most are to be used and eaten promptly. Another fine feature of this volume is the fact that about a quarter of the recipes are ones to help you use up what you’ve put up.
  • Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger, John “Doc” Willoughby, and Dan George (Amazon | Powell’s) – This book is a celebration of the unprocessed pickle and serves up inspiration every time I flip through its pages. It does show its age a bit as far as the names of the recipes go (no one would name something Korean-Style Cabbage Pickle in these times, they’d simply call it Quick Kimchi), but the fact remains that it has plenty to offer.
  • The New Preserves by Anne V. Nelson (Amazon | Powell’s) – I bought this book for its pickled cantaloupe recipe and keep it around for its sweet pickled carrots. Just don’t make the three bean salad – there’s not nearly enough acid in that recipe for boiling water bath canning.
  • Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon (Amazon | Powell’s) – If you want to pursue authentic pickles from Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asian, you want Karen Solomon by your side. This book is a masterful piece of recipe development and curation. And since many of the traditional pickles from those parts of the world are kept with processing, much of the book is perfect for this month’s challenge.
  • The Pickling Handbook by Karin Bojs (Amazon | Powell’s) – I included this book in the round-up because it is beautiful. It offers a handful of pickling recipes, as well as bunch of recipes to help you use up the pickles you’ve made.
  • The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich (Amazon | Powell’s) – Linda Ziedrich is the high priestess of home food preservation (I anxiously await her forthcoming book on savory jams). The third edition of her pickling book came out last summer and is bursting with all manner of pickled delight. If you only own one book on pickling, this should be it.
  • The Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman (Amazon | Powell’s) – This is a big, friendly book with lots of pickle knowledge to offer. Andrea processes most of her pickles, but many of the recipes could be easily done as quick pickles. She’s got one section where the recipes are all scaled for a single jar, making them easy for the small batch aficionado.
  • Pickled & Packed by Valerie Aikman-Smith (Amazon | Powell’s) – Pickled rose petals! Boozy bread and butter pickles! Pickled makrut lime leaves! This book is the one I pull down when I need something to wake me up and get me thinking about pickling in a whole new way.
  • Beyond Canning by Autumn Giles (Amazon | Powell’s) – I love Autumn’s flavor sensibility. She has a way of combining ingredients that is creative, delicious, and accessible. Recipes in this book that would work particularly well for the challenge include Kombu Dashi Pickled Shitake Mushrooms, Curried Orange Pickle, Bloody Mary Pickled Eggs, and Quick Pickled Rhubarb.
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Quick Pickles for the April Mastery Challenge

Get your Mastery Challenge on with a batch of quick pickles!

Happy April, friends! This month, the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge is focusing on quick pickles. Also often known as refrigerator pickles, these pickles are typically made in small batches, involve a vinegar brine, need little time to age (often, they’re good to go in just a few hours), and spend the entirety of their lifetime in the fridge.

As in previous months, remember that the goal of this challenge is to help you expand your skills while creating something that you’ll actually use. So choose a project or recipe that will satisfy both your own learning and help you make something delicious.

Why a Quick Pickle?

While I like a preserved pickle as much as the next canner, there are a number of reasons why I often turn to small batches of quick pickles when I have produce that needs to be used up or kept from the compost pile.

They’re easy to make and you can make a batch as big or small as you want (years ago, I shared a small batch I’d made simply to keep a single English cucumber from going bad).

You can also be creative when you’re making a quick pickle. Because it’s not a going into a boiling water bath canner, you aren’t wedded to ratios of vinegar and water to ensure safety. You can reduce vinegar amounts and use lower acid vinegars like those made with rice wine (which are typically 4.2% vinegars rather than the 5% pickle-ready versions).

Quick pickles also have a firmer texture. If you’re someone for whom a pickle is judged on its snappy crunch, quick pickles are the way to go. Because they’re not exposed to the prolonged heat of a boiling water bath, they don’t soften nearly as much as a preserved pickle does.

What Should I Pickle Quickly?

The great thing about this style of pickling is that nearly every variety of fruit and vegetable is fair game. I often use this technique when I want pickled onions to heap on a burger, some tangy fruit to add to a grain salad, or a pickles to take to a potluck or cookout.

If you’re a fairly traditional pickle eater, consider starting with a basic batch of Garlic Dill Pickles. Snappy and bright, they’re one of my very favorite pickles. Another good option are thinly sliced carrots and radishes. I also turn to quick pickling when I want to use up odds and ends that might otherwise get trashed. The quick pickled chard stems at the end of this post are a good example of that kind of pickling. And while we’re not yet into the depths of zucchini season, keep this one tucked into the back of your mind when you’re swimming in zucchini.

On the fruity end of things, consider these pickled peaches. As written, it’s not a quick pickle recipe, but a quick version of those same peaches would have been sturdier and more textured. These pickled blueberries are much the same as the peaches.

And, a final one perfect for the Easter and Passover holidays coming soon. Pickled Red Beet Eggs!

And here are some suggestions from around the internet.

Quick Pickled Strawberries || Quick Pickled Red Onions || Quick Pickled Asparagus || Quick Pickled Carrot Spears || Quick Daikon and Carrot Pickle || Spicy Refrigerator Pickled Peppers || Quick Pickled Fennel with Orange || Quick Pickled Apple

 

To Blanch or Not to Blanch?

One of the nice things about making quick pickles is that they don’t require a lot of preparation. However, denser things like asparagus, carrots, green beans, and beets absorb pickle brine better after they’ve had 30-60 seconds in a pot of boiling water. It’s not absolutely required, but cuts down the amount of time they’ll need in order to take on the flavors you carefully tucked into your brine.

If you hate the idea of adding a blanching step, you can either skip it or slice and dice the vegetables into increasingly small bits. Just know that the finished pickles will need a few days longer in the fridge and that they’ll always retain an element of their raw texture.

Vinegars and Flavor Elements

Like I mentioned above, one of the best things about making quick pickles is that there’s so much space to be creative. You can use the wacky vinegars you picked up on vacation, or fill half the jar with fresh herbs to add flavor. My only word of advise is that less is often more when it comes to pickling. Don’t heap your entire herb garden into a single batch, hoping for greatness. Creative restraint is your friend.

How Long Can I Keep My Quick Pickles?

Provided that you took care to start with squeaky clean containers* and you have the available refrigerator space, quick pickles can last for months in the fridge. I once had a jar of quick pickled cucumbers that I kept for nearly a year and they were amazing when we finally unearthed the jar from the far reaches of the fridge.

However, if you’re opening and closing the jar on a regularly basis, they are best when eaten within four to six weeks of being made. After that they often soften and or develop mold. As always, the rule of thumb is that if you have any doubt about the safety of your pickles, throw them out.

*A great thing about quick pickling is that you can skip the traditional mason jars. Any vessel with a tightly fitting lid will do the job here (like the reused peanut butter jars pictured at the top of this post).

How Do I Use a Quick Pickle?

Quick pickles are great on sandwiches. They work beautifully chopped and tossed with a grain salad. I’m a big fan of adding them to potato salad. They brighten all manner of tuna salads and salmon cakes. Turn them into tartar sauce or Russian dressing.

What are you planning on making for this month’s quick pickle challenge?

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Slightly Sweet Zucchini Fridge Pickles

two jars of finished pickles

When I was in Portland a couple weeks ago, my parents’ garden was in full swing. There were pole beans, baby greens in a big tub, slicing cucumbers, and an endless number of zucchini. I spent most of my time there preoccupied by the zucchini and all the culinary options it offers.

three zucchini

I pan-fried thick rounds in olive oil and garlic one night. The next day I made a big batch of zucchini butter to spread on toast and toss with pasta. I also made a huge batch of quick zucchini pickles for my parents to layer into their sandwiches.

zucchini in food processor

One thing you might notice about this recipe is that it calls for whole grain mustard rather than dried mustard seeds. This choice was driven entirely by what my mom had available in the house. And truly, I think the prepared mustard was a really nice addition. It adds a bit of extra body to the liquid and a nice roundness to the finished pickle.

finished zucchini pickles top

Because I made these pickles with an eye towards sandwiches, the slices are pretty thin. I you prefer something a little chunkier, feel free to do a thicker cut. You could also process these in a boiling water bath. However, if you have the fridge space, the texture of the fridge version really is a bit more sturdy and toothsome (which I like). To each his own!

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Guest Post: Pickled Green Tomatoes

green tomatoes

Since January, Olivia has been helping make Food in Jars even better. Her family has a tradition of pickling green tomatoes and so we scared up some out-of-season tomatoes (thanks Fair Food Farmstand!) and made a batch. If you can’t get your hands on green tomatoes right now, remember this one for late summer. Eaten on a slice of Italian bread, these pickles are downright blissful. – Marisa

I know very little about canning. I do have copious jar love—mason jars are scattered about my room to hold sea glass, flowers, and pencils, or simply to be put to use as glasses to drink out of — but I don’t often use jars for their intended purpose.

When I first started interning for Marisa, I was overcome by the sheer amount of jars in her apartment, all the lovely shapes and sizes and fillings, and I began to long to can something. I quickly became nostalgic for the one food I’ve ever canned: green tomatoes.

ingredients

I’ve grown up around good food all my life. Once I made it to college, I realized that I had been spoiled with homemade corn chowder and minestrones, panko-breaded chicken cutlets and oven-roasted vegetables, stuffed breads and antipastos, and, of course, the classic sauce and meatballs nearly every Sunday night.

My mom even makes her own croutons and ice cream cake when she is “feeling ambitious.” In fact, many of my friends have said that they’ve never had a bad meal at my house. Overall, my mother raised me with a slightly picky, but well-versed palate. I’ve been vegan for just over a year now, a decision I came to by observing my brother and roommate—both vegans—and doing a little research on the health benefits.

drained tomatoes

Despite the limits most people think a vegan diet imposes, I feel my tastes and love of food has only grown since I’ve begun to explore new dishes and revitalize old favorites: I’ve learned to work with tempeh to create burgers, mock tuna salad, and some great stir-frys; I’ve made vegan versions of my mom’s corn chowder, panko chick’n, and baked mac and cheese; I also make a mean vegan pizza, complete with cheeseless pesto, artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, and sliced tomatoes.

Many of these things I wouldn’t have tried two years ago, but being vegan has taught me to say “yes” to new experiences and view eating as an adventure, and a rewarding one at that.

chopped

Green tomatoes are a tradition in my family. It all begins with my Noni, my grandmother on my father’s side who emigrated from Pescara, Italy to the U.S. (living in various parts of Connecticut during her lifetime) when my father was just five years old. I fondly remember her watching cheesy game shows, especially with the “handsome Bobby Bark,” playing bingo and blackjack for spare change, and working in the kitchen–as long as she could do so sitting down.

Though her tomato-preserving sessions were before my time, I can clearly recall the days of working in the kitchen with Noni, rolling three baking sheets of meatballs and listening to her sing sweetly in both Italian and broken English. She passed away when I was in fifth grade, so I missed her cooking prime, but my family is well-versed with “Noni Stories,” which has made her somewhat of a celebrity among our friends.

stirring

Food was a way for her to remain close to her culture. She helped run a restaurant when she first came to the States and all her meals, both at work and at home with her five children, employed methods she learned growing up on a farm and incorporated characteristically Italian and Mediterranean flavors. The only exception was when she would indulge in spicy, un-authentic, Chinese delivery food in her later years.

close up of pickles

Every September, Noni, with help from my aunts and my mother, would gather up all the green tomatoes from the summer garden and can a dozen jars of pickles. They did this after putting up more than three hundred jars of ripe tomato sauce, just enough to get the family through the year. Noni would get the grandkids to help, too, each putting a sprig of basil in the jars and lining them up on the table.

prepared jars

The canning crew would start out by slicing the tomatoes and letting them sit in a bowl, covered in salt, for a few days. When it was time to rinse the tomatoes just before canning them, Noni used to put them in a clean pillow case and into the washing machine on a rinse and spin cycle.

My parents say she would lean on the washing machine when it spun them out to stop it from hopping across the floor. This process is NOT recommended, obviously; she broke a few machines doing this, much to the chagrin of my Nono, who would angrily have to make his way to “Sees-a-Robuk,” or Sears and Roebuck, to buy a new washer.

filling jars

I was not brave enough to try the green tomatoes until my teens, years after my Noni had passed away. I was never really big on tomatoes in any style or form, but once I tried them, I was sold. My taste buds were electrocuted and enlightened by the cold, pickley flavor and the crisp crunch of the tomato.

When I was in high school, I began jarring these tomatoes to use in holiday gift baskets, usually paired with a good wine (which my mother picked out) and a ciabatta or baguette (because in my opinion, great bread makes a meal). The pickles were a hit midwinter, but also took the spotlight at summer picnics, the quickly-emptied ball jar glistening in the sun.

packing jars

My mom and I have since updated the recipe, adding olives and eggplant to the original, which strictly called for tomatoes, garlic, onion, celery, and occasionally red bell pepper (my aunt sometimes uses green peppers, but red peppers add a nice spark of color to the jar). We were forced to adapt regardless, as my Noni never properly measured anything out — using a coffee cup, a spoon, or the ever-cumbersome “pinch” to explain her recipes to her grandkids, who tried desperately to figure out the conventional measurements.

Though we’ve cheated in making these tomatoes in the past, using already canned tomatoes to concoct our recipe, I’ve been itching to try canning these fresh, as well as perfect my technique so that the oil doesn’t seep out of the lids and ruin my gift baskets. To preserve the taste and texture of this pickle, and because balsamic vinegar is less acidic than others, it is best to store these in refrigerator.

pouring olive oil

I’m thrilled to share a bit of my family with all of you and to get to join the can-fam as well. Recipe and instructions after the jump, enjoy!

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Multi-colored Carrot and Green Radish Pickles

carrots and a green radish

The green one is the only radish, the rest are carrots.

Last week, I reported that I was feeling a little lackluster kitchen-wise and thoroughly tired of winter. Well, I’m happy to report that things are looking up and its all thanks to pickles. Quick pickled carrots and radishes, that is.

sliced

Recently, I was browsing the display of root vegetables at the Fair Food Farmstand, looking to see if there was anything that might tickle my canning fancy, when I spotted baskets of brightly colored carrots and vividly green radishes (I do believe they belong to the daikon family).

At $5 a pound, they were more expensive than my average pickle ingredients, but it had been so many months since I’d felt so immediately moved and energized by an ingredient that I was more than willing to pay up.

salted

Once home with my pricey roots, I washed them well, sliced them thinly on a mandoline, and tossed them with a little sea salt and granulated sugar. This helps draw out some of the water and make room for the vinegar to take up residence. Then I let them sit for about an hour, until the slices looked damp and seemed quite pliable.

into the brine

After a quick rinse and a vigorous shake, into a simple brine they went. My hope was to mimic the pickles that are so often served as garnish at Vietnamese restaurants, so I stayed simple with unseasoned rice wine vinegar, honey, water, and just a touch of salt (I know I started by salting the pickles, but by the time the carrot and radish slices hit the brine, most of that salt has been rinsed away. And unsalted pickles taste flat).

three pints

The pickles only stayed on the stove long enough to just heat through. Then I funneled them into jars and let them sit on the counter until they were cool enough for the fridge. They are both brightly flavored and just so darn pretty (though the purple carrots did bleed their color once they were in the jar and so over time, all those multi-colored roots have turned a near-uniform red).

crunchy fridge pickles

I gave one jar of these pickles away and have eaten most of the second jar tossed into salads of baby arugula and made into little stacks with slivers of cheddar cheese. It’s been fuel for plugging away on a cookbook and dreaming of warmer days.

Notes:

  • If you can’t find green daikon radish, you could easily use the more readily available white variety. If you can’t find that, sub in any radish that you can put your hands on. 
  • This is a refrigerator pickle because it tastes best that way. While you could process it in a water bath canner, the texture won’t be as good.

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Quick Pickled Romanesco Broccoli

pickles after one week

A couple weeks back, I bought a bright green head of romanesco broccoli. It was more money than I should have spent on a single handful of produce, but ever since trying it a few years back as a pickle on the Farmhouse Platter at Supper, I’ve had a weakness for it.

romanesco broccoli

I like it best as a quick pickle (also known as a refrigerator pickle), because it stays most crunchy and crisp that way. You also retain more color if you keep it out of a boiling water bath canner.

florets

It’s an easy pickle to make. Take on head of romanesco broccoli and break it into florets. Because of the spiral arrangement of the little fractal heads, it typically breaks apart quick easily. Place spices in the bottom of the jar and pack the florets in on top (my particular head fit perfectly into a pint and a half).

pouring pickling liquid

Heat apple cider vinegar, water and salt together just until the salt dissolves. Pour the pickling liquid over the florets and use a chopstick to ease out any air bubbles.

pickling

Place a lid on the jar. Once it is cool, pop it into the fridge and let it sit for about a week before beginning to munch. You’ll end up with deeply tangy, crunchy pickles. This time of year, when soups and braises appear on our weekly menu with greater frequency, having these in the fridge makes me very happy. The recipe is after the jump.

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Winners! Jennifer (#455) wins the set of Weck Jars and the ladle from Kaufmann Mercantile. Jan Jack (#183) wins the Jars Go To tote from A Tiny Forest.

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