Hey, y'all! I was just making some pickles yesterday and thought of you!
I love canning, but that love does NOT extend to canning pickles.* Instead, I love to make refrigerator pickles, which couldn't be easier or more yummy. The basics are simple: you make a quick brine, add seasonings, and put sliced vegetables (which are sometimes blanched) into the brine. Then refrigerate overnight, and voila! Pickles!
The pickles I made yesterday went a little something like this (all measurements estimated -- this ain't rocket science, y'all):
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
pinch red pepper flakes
few grinds of black pepper
1 large (seriously massive) English cucumber, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, sliced thinly
2 spring onions (scallions), sliced lengthwise a couple times
Throw all that together in a jar. Give the brine a taste -- it should be tangy but not elicit a "whooo." Adjust seasonings, remembering that the spices will become stronger as they steep in the brine. Let it all sit overnight, and then nibble away.
Of course, just about any firm-textured vegetable will work for this: blanched cauliflower, green or wax beans, pearl onions, sweet peppers, roasted beets, etc. Beet pickles should certainly include much more sugar.
It's a frugal way to deal with a surplus of veggies because it extends the life of that veggie, and it's also MUCH cheaper than your average store-bought condiment. Great accompaniment to a simple dinner of bread and cold meat. Mmmm...
*Notable exceptions to this rule include bread-and-butter pickles and cinnamon pickles, which hold up well to canning. Hmmm... those would be good tutorial posts for my mom to do, since I've never made either on my own.
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