I was wandering through a farmers market yesterday and spotted some pickling cukes, so on a whim I bought them. Once home, I looked up a quick pickling recipe for fridge pickles, sliced up the cukes and less than 6 hours later I was eating some wonderful spicy pickle chips.
I was amazed at how easy and flavorful they were, so now I want to branch out. Can we discuss recipes and techniques for pickles? And what beyond cucumbers, carrots, and garlic do you recommend?
Coming in to second this. One memorable year I had an insanely abundant crop of hot peppers - jalepenos and some other long, moderately hot pepper that turned red and yellow. They were visually stunning when all three colors were pickled together.
Sometimes my pickling consisted of nothing more than pouring hot vinegar over jars packed with pepper slices. That yielded not only delightful peppers, but I also found that the spicy vinegar was most useful in cooking. In particular, I’ve never seen a recipe for hot and sour soup that actually produces the delicious soup I’ve had in good Chinese restaurants - but when I make it with the vinegar left from pickling hot peppers, the results are sublime. No recipe needed - just use chicken broth flavored to taste with hot vinegar and salt, then add all the usual lumps (tofu cubes, bamboo shoots, julienned ginger, etc.) and simmer. (And thicken the broth with corn starch if desired.)
Pickled eggs are typical bar snacks at the sort of bar I may have gone to on occasion. They are, however, very divisive. People who like 'em like 'em a lot, and people who hate 'em… you know. (Maybe just try pickling a couple to see how they grab you.)
Pickled ginger is almost a staple here, though shaving it into thin slices is a task for a mandoline, so we buy it more often than we make it.
My mother used to pickle beets all the time, and I can say the kayT minority is not quite as small as originally anticipated. But the beet juice can do visually disastrous things to adjacent foods which can be its own turnoff.
And, well, my own personal (and quite contentious) favourite is pickled herring.
Basically it reproduces the standard 3 cup vinegar (5% acidity), 3 cup water, 1/4 cup salt pickling brine all in one jug. There’s some sugar in there as well- kind of calms it all down. Anyway, it makes for great quick pickles- just put the brine in with your aromatics (dill, mustard, peppercorns, garlic, etc…) bring to a simmer, and put in the jars with your vegetables to be pickled. Then store in the refrigerator.
I enjoy pickling fresh asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, and most especially turnips with red onions. I make a simple brine of white vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper corns. Sometimes I’ll add red pepper flakes.
I love pickled beets and always have some around. After the beets are gone you can throw some hardboiled eggs into the brine. The longer you leave them the more color they absorb.
Pickled okra is nice as are garlic scapes. I did yellow squash and zucchini pickles last summer that were quite good. I like to do a corn relish too, with corn, cabbage, onions and peppers. It’s very good on hot dogs. I’ve also pickled garlic and pearl onions. And it sounds odd, but pickled pineapple is quite tasty.
My mother used to make pickled watermelon rind. She loved it, but I was a picky kid and wouldn’t try it. Green beans are good for pickling. My fave is home-made bread-and-butter (sweet) pickles. I never liked sweet pickles before my wife made them and now they’re my first choice. They far surpass anything you’ll find in a store.
The main thing, if you’re doing hot bath canning, is to make sure you follow the FDA guidelines for canning. Also, for fridge pickles, leave them uneaten for a minimum of 30 days to allow flavor to fully develop.
For crisper pickles get some generic calcium chloride or buy a commercial brand like Pickle Crisp