Pickle me

I like pickled stuff. There’s something satisfying about biting into something that bites back a little with a salty, vinegar flair. It’s great as a snack or part of lunch. And when I’m on a hunting or fishing trip, it’s a great option for getting fiber and vitamins out of vegetables which typically don’t keep well in a cooler

While my brother and I were on a hunting trip in southeastern Minnesota this fall, we visited a coffee shop/lefse maker. Among the wares in their gift shop was a selection of pickled items. Jake was tempted by the pickled quail eggs, but instead opted for pickled carrots. He was rather excited about it, too. I’d never had carrots from a brine, but it sounded intriguing. 

A week or so later, carrots and other vegetables accumulated in my shopping bag at our local farmer’s market. I’d been making pickled sport peppers from our garden this summer, and was ready to branch out. 

7 Jars

In the spirit of experimentation, I produced seven jars of veggies. Each was different in composition. One was garlic dill carrot sticks (I wish I’d done more carrot trials). The rest included various combinations of yellow and purple cauliflower, carrot chips, garlic, Anaheim pepper, sport peppers, and spices. 

Right away it was obvious the purple cauliflower was going to bleed out and color each batch. Everything was tinted a rosy pink within hours. This didn’t affect the flavors, but the monochromatic presentation got tiresome. 

The Anaheim and sport peppers were expected to add a bit of zing, but really didn’t. In fact, not only did they not impart any heat to the rest of the jar, they seemed to have lost heat compared to their raw states. A slice or two of jalapeño would probably have been more successful. 

When it comes to cauliflower, plain white is probably best. I’m not sure the purple (or yellow) variety tastes substantially different, and the color changes were unnecessary.

Cream of the Crops

It was my hope that some jars would distinguish themselves as above average and worth reproducing. That turned out to be the case. In general, I preferred the jars with dill over those with pickling spice. Here are my picks, along with my notes to tweak them the next time around.

For all of these, pack veggies tightly in jars because they’ll try hard to float. Also, leave several days to a week before eating to let flavors develop. Refrigerate once cooled and keep refrigerated.

Jar #1, Pint (wide mouth)

Pickling cauliflower and other vegetables

-carrot sticks, enough to jam into jar

-fresh dill, around 1 tsp. finely chopped

-garlic, 1 or 2 cloves wedged in the middle

-1/2 cup water

-1/2 cup vinegar

-1/2 t pickling salt

Wedge carrot sticks and garlic into jar tightly, sprinkle dill on top. Heat water, vinegar, salt just to boiling, pour over the works. 

*Could easily have used more dill— perhaps a tablespoon.

Jar #2, Quart (narrow mouth)

-cauliflower florets

-carrot slices or sticks

-sport peppers

-dill, a couple sprigs

-2 cups vinegar

-1 cup water

-2 T. pickling salt

Pack veggies into jar. Use cauliflower to wedge them tightly below the neck of the jar. Heat water, vinegar, salt just to boiling, pour over the works.

*Seemed a little plain without garlic. 

Jar #5 Pint (narrow mouth)

-cauliflower florets

-carrot slices or sticks

-1/2 T. pickling spices

-3/4 cup vinegar

-3/4 cup water

-1 tsp. Kosher salt

Pack veggies into jar. Use cauliflower to wedge them tightly below the neck of the jar. Heat water, vinegar, salt just to boiling, pour over the works.

*The pickling spices were a bit too present for my taste; could use half as much. 

Jar #7 Pint (narrow mouth)

-cauliflower florets

-carrot slices or sticks

-Anaheim pepper chunks

-garlic, a couple cloves

-dill, a couple sprigs

-2 cups vinegar

-1 cup water

-2 T. pickling salt

Pack veggies into jar. Use cauliflower to wedge them tightly below the neck of the jar. Heat water, vinegar, salt just to boiling, pour over the works.

*Pepper could have been any variety. This amount of brine would be enough for two jars if veggies are packed in densely enough.


One thought on “Pickle me”

  1. Thank you for this! I love pickles of all kinds but have never taken the pickling plunge on my own. I like your very specific instructions.

    Thanks also for this blog – I moved from MN to TX about 22 years ago, but still visit my folks up there. I’ve always been interested in foraging and MN is so much more fruitful later into the summer and fall than TX.

    I look forward to reading more!

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