A couple of weeks ago, Steve and I dropped by Cotton & Rye for a drink after visiting with a friend. It was early for a Friday night, so we just took a seat at the beautiful bar. After salivating over the menu, we ordered their sausage and cheese board with “house made sausages, pickles, jams, rye crostini and house made mustard” to have with our drinks.
The board was full of all the things promised in the description, plus two amazing cheeses. That night the jam was tomato jam and the pickled selection consisted of Italian green beans, baby corn on the cob and blueberries. Not only did the pickles add a little color to the board, they also married well with all the other ingredients on the board. The warm atmosphere, impeccable service, amazing food and crafted cocktails were the perfect way to begin a weekend.
The pickled vegetables were a long way from Mama making pickles to use up the cucumbers from Papa’s garden. She made the best bread and butter pickles I’ve ever had. I made them one time, but it was a long and time-consuming process. Maybe if I had the bounty of Papa’s garden, I might get inspired to try it again.
Gone are the days when pickling was used to preserve foods for the winter months or to use up the last bit of the garden. We can get our produce year-round, so there seems no need to go to the trouble. Instead, today’s pickles are quick, made in small batches, and refrigerated — not processed in hot water baths for longevity. You literally can make a jar in less than 30 minutes and it doesn’t have to be just cucumbers. Like Cotton & Rye, you can experiment with different types of foods. If you make a pickle that you don’t like, you don’t have so much time or money invested in it that you feel like you have to eat it! Just toss and start over again.
So I decided to give the refrigerator-style pickling a try. Steve’s daughter, Trisha, came for a visit and shared her quick pickle recipe with me to get me started. Her recipe for pickles was by far my favorite. We even played with processing the pickles so she could give some away and they worked beautifully. Her pickling brine would work with any vegetable.
The biggest difference in any pickle is the brine. You can vary the type of vinegars and spices for different flavors. I chose to make different brines for each type of vegetable. Some were sweet, some were hot and some were just vinegary. I chose my favorites to share with you. If you just want to make a pickle and not try to become an expert, then buy a good apple cider vinegar and a jar of pickling spices. This will pretty much work on all pickles. You can add some dill for a sharper flavor or more sugar for a sweeter pickle.
I would be remiss to not point out some safety issues. These recipes are quick or refrigerated pickles and have to be stored in the refrigerator at all times. Don’t mail a jar to your brother in California (unless you want to get rid of him). Be sure to wash your vegetables well before cutting and always use a clean container. If you perfect your pickle recipe to the point that you want to make larger batches to share, you’ll need to take the steps to preserve them as outlined in the USDA Home Canning Guidelines available online.
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie’s Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to sophiesmarketplace.com.
Trisha’s Quick Pickles
• 2 pounds pickling cucumbers (see note)
• 1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
• 3-4 tablespoons white sugar
• 3 tablespoons pickling spice
• Chopped dill
• 2 cups water
• Half a head of garlic cloves chopped
Bring water, vinegar, sugar and spices to a boil. Let cool. Add liquid to sliced cucumbers, dill and garlic. Wait 24 hours and enjoy!
Note: Pickling cucumbers are smaller and not waxed. Waxed cucumbers won’t absorb the brine as well.
Pickled Green Beans
Yields approximately 4 pints.
• 2 pounds green beans, snipped (see note)
• 2 ½ cups white distilled vinegar
• 2 ½ cups water
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• ¼ non-iodized salt (canning or sea salt)
Seasoning for each pint jar:
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• ½ red bell pepper cut into strips (optional)
• ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (less or more depending on your preference)
• ½ teaspoon mustard seed
• ½ teaspoon dill seed
• ½ teaspoon coriander seed
1. Pack clean jars with green beans and pepper slices. Add seasonings to jars.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine brine ingredients and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Pour cooled brine over green beans, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
Note: For crunchy pickles, soak green beans in a bowl of ice water for 1-5 hours. Drain well before packing into jars.
Pickled Hot Peppers
I don’t do hot peppers, but Steve and my son-in-law do, so I made some. I bought a bunch of peppers (not sure what kind) and put them in a jar. Apparently, I was supposed to pickle them separately, not all together. Oh well, they’ll have fun guessing what’s in the jar!
• 2 cups apple cider or white vinegar
• 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon canning salt
• Assorted peppers
• 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1. In a medium saucepan, heat vinegar, salt and water just until salt is dissolved.
2. Wash peppers well. Slice or leave whole. If using whole peppers, make a small slit in each pepper. Pack peppers in a clean jar and add garlic and enough brine to cover the tops of the peppers. Allow to sit a few minutes and add more brine if needed. Refrigerate.
3. Brine will make enough for 3 pint jars of peppers.
Pickled Sweet Peppers
I planted banana peppers in my flower garden this year and they have been prolific. My daddy loves them and keeps sending me messages that he is out of peppers. I had to hide a few from him to pickle some! I discovered this recipe on GeniusKitchen.com (my new favorite recipe site) and it is now my go-to sweet brine.
• 2 cups cider vinegar
• 2⁄3 cup white sugar
• 1⁄2 teaspoon mustard seed
• 1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed
• Banana peppers, seeded and sliced into rings or strips
In a medium saucepan, heat all brine ingredients to a boil. Pack peppers into a clean jar and cover with brine. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
The tomatoes get soft after sitting in the pickling brine, so some of my staff felt there was a texture issue. My tomatoes were really ripe, so next time I’ll try a firmer tomato.
• ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
• ¾ cup water
• 2 teaspoons pickling salt
• 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and/or pear tomatoes
• 1 spring rosemary
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 2 large basil leaves
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional)
• 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
1. In a medium saucepan, heat vinegar, salt, and water until salt is melted. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
2. Pierce each tomato with a knife and pack into jars with herbs. Pour enough cooled brine over tomatoes to cover them. Refrigerate for 48 hours.