Whether you got a fantastic bargain on seasonal produce at the weekend farmers' market, or grew a bumper crop of vegetables in your own backyard garden, making homemade pickles is an easy and delicious cooking project.
Our grandmothers had to spend the long days of July, August and September in un-air-conditioned kitchens, fussing to "put up" dozens of quart jars of pickled goods, in order to feed the family through the long winter. We, on the other hand, have the privilege and ease of buying store-bought goods any time of year. But few pleasures compare to the taste of a batch of crisp, tart, homemade pickled cucumbers, beets, or beans.
Preserving foods by pickling them is a practice that is as old as civilization itself. When our oldest forebears started cultivating crops, no longer barely surviving by hunting and gathering, our ancient ancestors sometimes, if they were really lucky, ended up with a surplus of goods at harvest time. Pickling developed as a way to preserve, using brine or vinegar, out-of-season goods for consumption later on.
While Americans think mainly of pickles as being cucumbers, all sorts of things pass for pickles around the world. Indians pickle mangoes and chilies; Japanese pickle daikon radishes and umeboshi plums. Italians mix up cauliflower, carrots, and celery for giardiniera; the British pickle boiled eggs and onions, of all things. The Russians pickle beets [yum], and Israelis and Arabs alike pickle turnips and lemons.
Our Pickling Spice Blend is different from other pickling blends: we add coriander, fenugreek, and just a touch of chile for that extra burst of flavor. Tangy, not hot.
Use 2-3 tsp of Pickling Spice Blend per quart of vinegar for most vegetables. The whole spices infuse the brine or vinegar, imparting robust flavors to your homemade pickles.
Pickling Spice Blend isn't just for making pickled vegetables, either. It adds a zingy boost if you're parboiling ribs, or making German sauerbraten. Try a spoonful of Pickling Spice blend in your boiling water for your next shrimp boil. Add some Pickling Spice Blend to the slow-cooker for a unique and delicious pot roast, too!
Ingredients: Coriander, mustard seed, allspice, dill seed, cloves, chile pepper, bay leaves, other spices