Easy Brine – Fresh Pickles
Picking a title for this post was as difficult as picking what to pickle. But easy puns aside, it really amazes me how many veggies or fruits you can pickle and the many different methods that exist for pickling across the world.
As an Indian, pickles have long been a part of my food lexicon. Every May, in the heat of the Indian summer when the mangoes are at their peak, my mother, aunts and grandma would be furiously busy, making pickles. Large porcelain jars as tall as us kids would be left out in the sun for 10-15 days at various stages of curing. Raw mangoes, diced, grated, or whole, would be submerged in spices, oils or raw sugars, melting, transforming, while we played hide-and-go-seek.
Pickles made in brine like we do in the US were not as prevalent in India. So when I first tried pickles in the US, I gave it little thought, but as my curiosity about food developed along with my palate, I suddenly rediscovered the pleasure that lies in the crunch of a brined pickle.
There’s alchemy that the produce undergoes in the process is impressive.
This week’s market day demo recipe is super simple, you’ll ask yourself why you haven’t tried it before, like I did after trying it a few years ago. I use these pickles on everything, from salads to sandwiches to tacos.
This week I was inspired by the fact that the veggies are at their peak in August and all the farmers had a great variety to choose from; Charlton Orchards gave us some cukes, Flats Mentor Farms had the beets, and dill, Kelly’s Farm had these jewel radishes and Farmer Dave gave us some carrots and garlic. The fennel seeds are my Indian inspiration to this classic.
This recipe makes enough brine for about 4 cups of chopped veggies.
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper or ½ tsp. whole peppercorns
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ cup roughly chopped dill
3-4 thin slices of fresh jalapeños
- Put all the brine ingredients in a pan except the fresh dill and jalapeños and heat to a boil and then gently simmer until the salt and sugars dissolve
- Clean and chop the veggies into slices or any shape you chose as you would if cooking them; i.e. without heads, skin or foliage depending on which vegetable you’re using
- Place veggies in a clean and dry resealable glass container or jar along with the chopped dill and jalapeños
- If using several containers, distribute the dill and jalapeños according to preference
- Pour the hot vinegar liquid over the veggies and let it cool before refrigerating and serving
- Keep refrigerated in the resealable container for about 10-15 days
Pickling may have started and used as a means to preserve foods during season to be enjoyed all year around. But now that we can get most of the produce most of the time, I prefer to use my pickles fresh within 1-2 weeks rather than jar them. If you’re going to can them for future use, please follow instructions for proper method from reliable sources.