We celebrated Memorial Day and here we are heading into full swing for our summer season. I hope we all get to spend a lot of time out on the water with our friends and family. Our summer picnics, BBQ’s, and gatherings on boats always provide the opportunity for great feasts with everyone contributing their favorite dishes. Most are the foods we enjoy ‘on the side’ to accompany whatever is being prepared on the grill hanging off the stern.
I’ve never been one for pickles, though there are a few times when I do like them, gherkins chopped in tuna salad, Southern fried and maybe on a burger. The best are homemade varieties, most times with vegetables right out of the garden or bought from a local farm. Cucumbers are the most common for pickling, but you can also use many other vegetables and even fruits. Some that work well are carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cherries, fennel, strawberries, and the list goes on.
The easiest to make are ‘quick pickles’ (also known as refrigerator pickles). They are just vegetables (or fruit) that are pickled in vinegar, water and salt or sugar, placed in a mason jar and then stored for a few days in the refrigerator, not needing any canning. Below is a basic recipe for pickling most anything. The other 2 recipes are out of the ordinary and worth giving a try. Please remember to wash your Mason jars out with warm, soapy water and let dry completely before using.
Basic Quick Pickle – Makes 2 pints
1-pound fresh vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, green beans, or cherry tomatoes)
2 sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, dill, or rosemary or whatever you desire)
1 to 2 tsp. of whole spices (black peppercorns, coriander, or mustard seeds)
1 tsp. of dried herbs or ground spices
2 cloves of garlic, smashed or sliced (optional)
1 cup of vinegar (white, apple cider, rice or be adventurous and try lemon vinegar)
1 cup of water
1 Tb. of kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 Tb. of granulated sugar (optional)
Wash and dry your vegetables, peeling if necessary. Cut into desired shape and size.
Divide and place the herbs, spices, or garlic you are using in 2 pint-sized jars. Pack the vegetables into the jars, leaving 1/2” of space at the top.
Place the vinegar, water, salt and sugar (if using) in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and/or sugar. Pour into the jars, again leaving 1/2” at the top. Gently tap the jars on the counter to remove any of the air bubbles and add more brine if needed. Screw the lids and tightly and let sit until room temperature, then refrigerate. Allow at least 2 days to age and flavor before using.
I found this on the web:
The Seaboard Cafe’s Famous Pickled Carrots
2 pounds carrots, washed, peeled, and trimmed
2 cups white vinegar
¾ cup granulated white sugar
3 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 1½ teaspoons each dried basil and oregano
¼ medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
2 small garlic cloves
1 whole large jalapeño, cut in half and seeded if desired (optional)
Cut each carrot into sticks, across the middle into two halves, about 4 inches long, then cut each half into quarters. Set the sticks aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot large enough to fit your carrot sticks, add the remaining ingredients and bring the vinegar to a low boil. Add the carrot sticks, stirring them gently with a wooden spoon just until they just begin to soften and the liquid comes back up to a simmer. The brine may not fully cover them but they will release more liquid as they cook. Cover the pot and let the carrots cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and leave it covered until everything is totally cooled, which should take several hours. Check and stir every once in a while, to make sure the carrots are evenly covered by the brine. When totally cool, pack the carrots and brine into clean jars and refrigerate. Makes about 4 cups.
Pickled Pears with Lime
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of lime juice
Zest of 1 lime, julienned
3/4” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
6 whole cloves
20 firm small pears (about 3 lbs.), peeled, and cut in half
1 cup of boiling water
In a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold the pears, combine the sugar, lime juice, zest, ginger and cloves. Bring to a boil, cover and let boil over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the pears and enough boiling water to barely cover them. Bring to a simmer and poach, partially covered, until just tender, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool in the syrup.
Carefully remove the pears with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into another non-reactive saucepan, saving the zest for garnish. Boil the syrup until it is reduced to 2 cups, then pour over the pears. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Can be kept covered in the refrigerator for several weeks. Makes 20 servings.