Hang tight! Spring is almost here. Pickling is a great way to utilize everything seasonal. Getting your feet wet early on will allow you to feel like a pro when you’re swimming in fresh fruits and vegetables once summer hits. What's that you say? You've never pickled something before? Have no fear, we're here to help navigate these unchartered waters.
Our Operations Manager, Laura West, was formerly the Farm Manager at Morningside Farm in Hinckley and she still grows her own crops when she's not busy buying produce and packing it up for you here at PIP! With an overabundance of produce at her finger tips as a farmer, she's become an expert at pickling when there's just too much to cook it all right away. If you pickle it and store it, you're extending its lifespan so that you don't let it go to waste. As Melissa from Saucisson recently told us, "When in doubt, pickle it!" Here are two of Laura's favorite methods for pickling, featuring a few of the items from this week's boxes!
Makes 2 pint jars
1 pound Perfectly Imperfect rhubarb stalks (4 to 6 large stalks)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 star anise
Prepare two wide mouth pint jars and lids.
Wash rhubarb stalks and trim to fit into the jars. If the stalks are wide, slice them in half. In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
Divide the mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves and star anise between the two prepared jars. Pack the rhubarb pieces into the jars above the spices.
Once the pickling liquid has boiled and the sugar and salt are dissolved, pour into the jars over the rhubarb, leaving 1/2 inch of space from the rim. Tap the jars gently to remove any air bubbles. Top off the jars with more brine if necessary. Tightly screw on lids while hot, and tops will seal themselves.
Let the jars cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Jars can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Let this pickle cure for at least 48 hours before eating, the tartness continues to lessen.
These guys can be used in salads and on cheese plates, over yogurt or ice cream. The brine is great to mix with oil to create a vinaigrette.
Mexican Style Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias en Escabeche
Makes 2, 8 oz. jars
3 large Perfectly Imperfect carrots
2 medium jalapeños
2 small sweet Perfectly Imperfect bunching onions
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
Prepare two wide mouth 8 oz. jars.
Peel and slice the carrots into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Trim the stems from the jalapeños, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Thinly slice the white of the onion. (I suggest a mandolin if you’ve got one). Place them all in a medium bowl and toss.
Pack the vegetables into the jars, making sure there is a 1/2 inch of space from the rim. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing. Add 1 garlic clove, 1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of thyme to each jar.
Place the vinegar, water, salt, oregano, and sugar (if using) in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar (if using).
Pour the hot brine into the jars, filling each one to within 1/2 inch of the top. You might not use all the brine. Gently tap the jars to remove all the air bubbles. Top jars off with more brine if necessary.
Tightly screw on lids while hot, and tops will seal themselves. Let the jars cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Pickles can store in the refrigerator for up to a month. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 24 hours before cracking them open.
These guys make a great companion to a guacamole/salsa/queso scenario. But of course, put on top of your favorite tacos!
We hope you'll try Laura's recipes and then use your new pickling knowledge to get creative in your kitchen developing your own unique pickling combos with all those veggies lingering in your fridge! Don't forget to show us how you're using our Perfectly Imperfect Produce by tagging us @perfectlyimperfectproduce.com.
Recipes by Laura West. Photos by Ashley Weingart.