One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce. One way to enjoy summer veggies is to pickle them and add them salads, sandwiches, pasta, and just about any other summer recipe. Pickling is also a great way to extend the life of your favorite summer vegetables to all year long.
What Veggies to Use: When pickling vegetables you want to be sure to use crunchy, fresh veggies. Cauliflower, beets, onions, cucumbers, celery, carrots, and zucchini are all great options for pickling because they will still keep some of their crunch. You don't want soggy vegetables. Also, because the vegetables will be in the pickling liquid for at least 48 hours, but usually longer, you don't want them to easily break down, you want to use vegetables that will stand up to the pickling liquid. Experiment with all kinds of vegetables, try using mushrooms, green beans, or eggplants for something unique and different.
Needed Supplies: When making pickled vegetables, you should store them in glass jars with sealable lids. Items that are pickled will last for months, even years in some cases, if prepared correctly. You need to make sure you are using sterilized jars because even the smallest amount of bacteria will ruin your pickling efforts. When you purchase the jars, you should sterilize them by first rinsing them in hot soapy water, then boiling them, similar to what you would do it you were canning or making jam. If you are making a large amount of pickled vegetables, try to use smaller jars because once opened, they will lose freshness.
Preparing the Vegetables: You should first soak (overnight) or boil (for about 1 or 2 minutes) the vegetables in a water and salt brine before adding them to the jars, to prepare them. You can also boil the vegetables in vinegar for about 15 minutes. This process will prepare the vegetables for soaking up the flavors of the pickling liquid.
Making the Brine: Just about every brine is a combination of vinegar and salt or sugar along with herbs and spices. The most common pickling liquid has a combination of mustard seeds, dill, and garlic, but you can add other herbs like bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, or celery seeds. You can also add a variety of fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, or cilantro. Be creative with your favorite flavors!
Pickled Mixed Vegetables Recipe
Makes 4 servings
20 ounces fresh mixed vegetables or one vegetable of choice
1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
1/2 tablespoon celery seeds
A few sprigs of fresh herbs
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Boil a large pot of salted water; add the vegetables to the water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and immediately place in a bowl of ice water to preserve color and crunch
While vegetables are cooling combine mustard seeds, celery seeds, herbs, vinegar, water, and sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer
When vegetables are cooled, place in sterilized jars and pour hot spice mixture over top, leaving about 1/2 inch space at the top
Bring another large pot of water to a boil and place jars in water; add more water so it covers jars by about 1 inch. Let jars simmer for about 20 minutes, adding more water if needed to keep jars covered. Remove jars carefully with tongs and let them cool. Store them in a cool dry place for a few months
Related Video: How to pickle vegetables
Watch this video that shows you how easy it is to pickle your own vegetables at home.