Pickles!

March 9, 2011 – I wrote this post a couple years ago, for a different incarnation of this blog, and today seemed like a good day to post it here.  It’s starting to feel like spring and the mornings aren’t icy anymore, so these bright pickles seemed just right. The recipe’s not Paleo/Primal, but it’s a pretty easy modification to make it so if you wanted. Enjoy!

I’ve been dreaming of country-living, growing vegetables, and putting up food for the winter, so when I read Molly of Orangette’s description of all the pickles she and her husband made to serve at their wedding, I couldn’t resist.

There are lots of different types of pickles, from fresh pickles that stay in the fridge, the vinegared type that will stay good in your pantry for years. (Just this Christmas, we got to enjoy a last jar of my Grandmother’s famous sweet pickles. My Grandmother passed away several years ago, and it was lovely remember her with a taste of something she made herself. That’s not too morbid, is it?)

Anyways, I got in the mood to make some pickles, put up food for the winter, prepare for the cold season, and all of that. Then I realized it’s already the middle of winter, and I live in California, where we can get fresh vegetables all year, right down the street at the best Farmer’s Market in the area… but I still love the IDEA of putting up food to last the winter, or at least to last while things are out of season, which does happen even here in California. And besides, that sweet/sour pickley taste sounded awfully good!

Deb at Smitten Kitchen had recently posted a recipe for pickled carrot sticks. And then, the day I was pickle-obsessed, Elise at Simply Recipes posted a recipe for pickled red onions, so the fates were conspiring towards pickles, and I listened.

They’re both quite lovely. Not to be eaten in large quantities, but to add a little zing to the side of a meal, or quick bit right out of the fridge, these are both fantastic. We’ve enjoyed both in numerous salads, and the pickled onion made a tasty addition to a bowl of hummus.

Here they are…

Deb’s pickled carrot sticks call for dill seed, but also list dill weed as a subsititute, so not having the seed on hand, I used a healthy dose of the dill we dried from our CSA in the fall.

Pickled Carrot Sticks
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Some carrots, a pound would be good, cut into sticks
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup cider or plain vinegar (the former makes a sweeter, milder brine)
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Place carrots in a heatproof bowl. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered. Chill carrots, covered, at least 1 day for flavors to develop.

Carrots keep, chilled in an airtight container, 1 month.

The brine makes such a lovely vinegary aroma in the house, although it can make you cough if you breath in too deeply.

On to the onions…
Some other recipes I found called for blanching and rinsing the red onions several times. This one doesn’t, and while I’m sure that technique is worth the effort, I was interested in trying a quicker recipe, and it turned out quite well I think, without all that extra boiling and cooling and such.

Also, Elise’s pickled red onions call for cloves, and bay leaves, which I didn’t have on hand, so I went with a star anise, and some ground cinnamon, which I thought worked just fine. She also lists a variety of other spices which will work well, such as “fresh ginger slices, allspice berries, oregano, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds,” so feel free to experiment.

Pickled Red Onions
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 medium or 1 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 C. white vinegar
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 T. ground cinnamon
1 star anise
a few peppercorns

Blanch red onions in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain in colander.
While the water is heating in step 1, in a separate saucepan combine the vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add blanched, drained onions to the vinegar mixture. Simmer for 1 minute.
Transfer to a glass jar. Allow to stand until cooled. Will keep several weeks refrigerated.


This picture, by the way, is both jars after we’ve been eating from them for a couple weeks.
(You can also see that we like to reuse our jars, AND that I haven’t put that Christmas pine cone away yet.)

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