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.
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.