Picklestory Part II

Remember last week when I decided to make pickles?

The day I made the pearl onion pickles, I ran across a pickling recipe involving a salt brine instead of a vinegar-based solution.  So I ran up a quick batch of carrot pickles with tons of garlic.

Another great thing about having guests in the house is that you can press them into service as taste-testers.  We put together a preserves sampler that included the pickles, jalapeno jelly, green tomato relish, and that delicious smoked salmon spread.

So what’s the verdict on my first few attempts at pickling vegetables?

I learned several things.  Don’t use iodized salt.  If you use ground spices, you’ll have a murky broth that turns your pearl onions into creepy eyes.  Despite these faults, the onion pickles were basically perfect: not too sweet, not too sour, still just onion-y enough.

Some people liked the carrot pickles, but I thought they were too briney.  You can’t really taste the carrot for all the salt and garlic (and I love garlic, really I do).  They’d probably make a decent bar snack, and their strong taste is tamed when plated on a cracker.  I might want to try pickling vegetables in brine again, but I would tinker around with the recipe and proportions.

The recipe I used to pickle the onions calls for shallots, but was originally adapted from an onion pickle recipe.  I liked how it worked on onions, and will probably try with shallots in the future.  It’s from the Smith & Hawken Gardeners’ Community Cookbook, which is worth picking up if you have a productive garden on your hands or frequent the farmer’s market.  It’s a compilation of gardeners’ favorite recipes from their family archives, and hasn’t disappointed us yet.  I made a half recipe to start with, but will probably scale up in the future because these are gooooooood.

Pickled Shallots

1 pound shallots, peeled

1 1/2 cups kosher or pickling salt

1 cup malt or cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp pickling spices

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp kosher or pickling salt

1. Place the shallots in a shallow bowl. Combine 2 quarts of water and 1 1/2 cups salt in a saucepan. Heat until just beginning to boil, then pour over the shallots. Set aside at room temperature to soak overnight.

2. Prepare 2 pint jars and lids for canning [I used clean glass jars and refrigerated them rather than go through the canning process]

3. Drain and rinse the shallots and pack them into the jars.

4. Place the remaining ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Pour the vinegar mixture over the shallots. Seal and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes. Or cool, cap, and store in the refrigerator. Let marinate for 1 week before using. Will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator, 1 year if processed.

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