The joy of pickling

Aug 14, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Are you one of the almost 10 million new home gardeners that got digging in the backyard this year? After you're done grilling, sautéing and roasting your home garden harvest, are you wondering how to preserve those wonderful summer flavors? Take a lead from Linda Ziedrich, author of The Joy of Pickling, and pickle those fresh summer fruits and vegetables to enjoy your bounty even in the dead of winter.

Pickles in Dish

Pickling recipes

The leaves may soon start falling but you can preserve this summer's bounty all year long. In her book, The Joy of Pickling (Harvard Common Press, 2009), Linda Ziedrich, teaches you the basics to get started, including proper pot and jar selection, an overview of common pickling spices, and how to process your finished product for long-term storage. And if you don't have a green thumb or backyard space, you can still put these tasty tips to good use with fruits and vegetables from your local farmer's market. Here are two pickling recipes from Ziedrich plus one of my own favorite pickle recipes.

Green Tomato Pickle

The Joy of PicklingMakes about 6 pints

This is a delicious and resourceful use for those end of season tomatoes that are still green and may not ripen before the first frost.

4 pounds fleshy green tomatoes
2 quarts water
1 quart cider vinegar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup gralunated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dried allspice berries
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3/4 pound onions, sliced into rounds (about 2 cups)

1. Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. In a large non-reactive pot, combine the vinegar, both sugars, salt and mustard seeds. Tie the other spices together in a piece of cheesecloth and add it to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugars and salt.

2. Add the tomatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring the vegetables to push them under the liquid.

3. Remove the spice bag, then ladle the vegetables and pickling liquid into pint mason jars, leaving a 1/2-inch of headspace. Close the jars with two-piece caps, and process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

4. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place for at least 3 weeks before eating. After opening a jar, store it in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from The Joy of Pickling courtesy of Harvard Common Press (2009).

Apple and Onion Pickle

Makes about 3 cups

Cranberry sauce may have stiff competition this holiday season with this sweet and spicy relish.

1 firm-fleshed apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons slivered fresh ginger
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
6 whole dried allspice berries
1 generous pinch hot pepper flakes
About 1-3/4 cups cider vinegar

1. Choose a jar that will hold the apple and onion slices horizontally. Alternate layers of apple and onion in the jar and evenly distribute the spices between each layer.

2. Pour the cider vinegar over the apple and onion, adding more if necessary, until the fruit and vegetables are completely covered.

3. Close the jar with a non-reactive cap and store in a cool, dark place. The pickle will be ready to eat in about two weeks and will keep for several months. After opening, store jar in refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from The Joy of Pickling courtesy of Harvard Common Press (2009).

Sweet & Savory Pickles

Makes 1 quart

Many pickle recipes call for hours of soaking then weeks of sitting on a shelf until they're ready to eat. This recipe, from In Jennie's Kitchen, is pretty close to instant gratification—you'll be ready to start topping burgers, sandwiches or eat them straight from the jar in less than two hours.

4 cups thinly sliced kirby cucumbers
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 piece dried star anise
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2-inch piece dried ginger, sliced

1. Add cucumber and onion slices to a deep bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add vinegar and sugar to a deep pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add spices along with the rinsed cucumber and onion slices and return to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently 5 more minutes. Do not overcook, or you'll end with limp pickles. Let cool. Will last a few weeks in airtight containers in the refrigerator or process in canning jars.

More pickling recipes

Homemade pickles
Mango Pickle