When I was a kid growing up in my parents’ San Francisco home, there were two refrigerators — the main one in the kitchen, and an auxiliary one downstairs in the garage.
It was the latter one that was filled with extra provisions — tubs of tofu, cartons of orange juice, and big glass jars of pickles.
My Mom’s pickles.
She would save big glass jars and reuse them, packing them with cauliflower florets, slices of carrots, and stems of mustard greens. She’d pour in hot white vinegar diluted with a little water and mixed with a few mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns, before capping the jars, and storing them in that refrigerator.
As the days and weeks went on, we’d enjoy the pickles of her labor. Their snap and tang would jazz up simple green salads or sandwiches. But often, I’d just fish out a few pieces to eat solo for an entirely satisfying snack.
So when Jarden Home Brands, maker of the Ball brand of home-canning products, sent me its “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (Oxmoor House), I leafed through the more than 350 recipes, and came to a halt at one in particular.
It was for “Refrigerator Pickles in 4 Easy Steps.” Longtime readers of my blog know that for the longest time, I was a can-o-phobe — too afraid to can anything, believing I was surely going to kill someone in the attempt. But last year, with a nudge from Ball, I got over that phobia. I actually made jam. Real strawberry jam that requires water-processing the jars to make them shelf-stable. I not only loved the resulting jam, but can report back that I — and my husband — lived to tell about it all, too.
I may have conquered my fear of canning, but this super easy pickle recipe, which doesn’t require water-processing the jars, spoke to me like no other for obvious reasons. It sounded delicious, and it so reminded me of the treasured stash my mother used to keep in the refrigerator.
This recipe couldn’t be simpler. I actually doubled it to make four pint jars. Just sterilize your jars, then fill them tightly with an assortment of veggies. I used orange cauliflower, grape tomatoes, green beans and Kirby cucumber slices. Heat up the vinegar (I used a combination of Champagne and Sauvignon Blanc vinegars), and add sugar, water, citrus zest (I used lemon), crushed red pepper, oregano, garlic cloves and bay leaves. The recipe does call for Ball Salt for Pickling & Preserving, but I just used kosher salt.
Once the jars are filled and capped, place them in the refrigerator. The recipe says to wait a month before eating for the best flavor. But naturally, I couldn’t wait. After two days, I unscrewed the lid of one jar, and poked a fork in to pry out a slice of cucumber and a cauliflower floret. Just like old times.
They were plenty sassy tasting already. And with that, I was a kid all over again, digging into my Mom’s pickle stash.
CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a copy of “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (valued at $22.95), plus four wide-mouth pint jars in the just-released pretty blue color (valued at $8.99), and a $5 coupon to use in the FreshPreservingStore.
Entries, open to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST July 23. Winner will be announced July 25.
How to win?
You’ve read my favorite pickle memory. Now, tell me your favorite remembrance involving pickles or preserves. Best answer wins.
Don’t forget that July 22 is Can-It-Forward Day, in which Ball ambassadors will be demonstrating canning recipes on Facebook live, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PST. For every engagement received on the videos, whether it be a comment or a “like” or “share,” Ball brand will donate $1 to a local charity. Ball experts also will answer questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST.
Ball also will launch a digital pledge page, where you can pledge to can-it-forward, too.
Refrigerator Mediterranean Pickles in 4 Easy Steps
(Makes about 1 quart or 2 pint jars)
About 2 pounds of vegetables (such asparagus, button mushrooms, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, onions, radishes, bell peppers, eggplant, chile peppers, cherry or grape tomatoes, zucchini)
For the brine:
2 cups white wine, red wine or balsamic vinegar, or a combination (see Note)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Ball Salt for Pickling & Preserving, or kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or basil
2 teaspoons citrus zest
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small bay leaves
Wash and trim the vegetables. Leave them whole or cut into slices or quarters, as appropriate.
Add brine ingredients to a small stainless steel or enamel saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
Tightly pack vegetables into 1 hot and clean (1 quart) or 2 hot and clean jars (1 pint each). Pour the brine over the vegetables to cover. Cover jar with lid; let stand 1 hour or until cooled to room temperature. Store in refrigerator at least 1 month for best flavor or up to 3 months. (The longer pickles stand in the refrigerator, the more flavorful they will become.)
Note: These pickles are plenty tart. If you like them a little less sour, try decreasing the vinegar amount by 1/4 to 1/3 cup and upping the water by an equivalent amount.
From “Adapted from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” by Jarden Home Brands
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