The summer is soon coming to an end and is that time of year to think about delicious home made pickles. It is recommended to pickle vegetables once you harvest, if you grow your own, and once the temperature outside decreases. The pickles are best kept at 10 degrees C, up to 15 degrees C, but you can also start now if you have a cellar or a cold room. I pickled mine in August and decided to keep them in my spare fridge until the temperature decreases a little, and after I will store them in my larder.
You can choose which vegetables you would like to pickle and what quantities, depending on the size jars or barrels you have available.
My choice of pickled vegetables this year was:
– One jar with cucumbers mixed with a few green tomatoes (unripe tomatoes that I harvested from my garden before they had the chance to ripe, when they were still dark green or even bright green, before they matured and turned red or their mature colour).
– One jar with red cabbage, red beetroot and green tomatoes.
– Two jars with cauliflower, gold beetroot, carrots, green tomatoes and piccerella peppers (you can use capiscum, romano or bell peppers).
Peppers do not pickle very well in brine, as they soften. They pickle better in vinegar and if you like cucumbers in vinegar, you can pickle both cucumbers and peppers in vinegar, but that is a different recipe, outside the scope of this recipe.
2 kg fresh cucumbers, whole
2 large cauliflowers, broken down in florets
2 golden beetroots, peeled and cut in round slices or desired shape
2 red beetroots, peeled and cut in round slices or desired shape
30 unripe green tomatoes, depending on their size, mine were quite small (see pictures), whole
10 celery stalks with leaves, whole
5 dried dill flowers (approximate, depending on size), if too large, can be broken up (see pictures)
2 large fresh horseradish roots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or desired shape
24 garlic cloves, depending on size (see pictures), whole
12 chillies, I chose to use them whole, but you can deseed them and slice in half vertically
0.5kg carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or desired shape
10 piccerella peppers, I chose to use them whole, but you can deseed them and slice in half vertically
4 tbsp vinegar used at the end, preferably apple cider vinegar. I used white wine vinegar.
All above vegetables are best organic / from your own garden if you are growing your own vegetables. The quantities are approximate, it depends how well and tight you place them inside the jars as to how many will fit.
Morton Coarse Kosher salt (1 heaped tbsp to 1 litre of water), get from Amazon here
Sugar (1 tsp to 1 litre of water)
Pickling spices mix (get from Amazon here) or make your own (coriander, yellow mustard seeds, bayleaves, ginger, cloves, allspice, black peppercorns)
EQUIPMENT AND UTENSILS:
Large pan for making the brine. I used the Kilner Stainless Steel Preserving Pan, get from Amazon here.
Pickling jars. I used two x 2L Kilner Round Clip Top Jars (get from Amazon here) and two x 4L Fido Clip Top Preserving Jars (get from Amazon here). Total 12L capacity jars.
Kilner Stainless Steel Easy Fill Jar Funnel (get from Amazon here). You can fill the jars without it, but it can be messy, it is easier if you have one. It fits perfectly on both the Kilner and Fido jars I used, see pictures.
Ladle to pour the brine over in the jars (get from Amazon here).
Step 1: The preparation of the jars, lids and gaskets
You can choose to sterilise your jars, lids and purchase new gaskets. You can place the jars and lids in a large pan and pour hot water over them, bringing them to a boil, cover and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Switch off the heat and let them stand in hot water until they are ready to be filled.
You can use the Kilner Canning Pan & Rack Set for this, if you have one. You can get one from Amazon here.
I washed mine in the dishwasher at the highest setting. Some wash them thoroughly with hot soapy water and keep them in hot water until ready to be filled.
It is recommended to use new gaskets each time you use the jars for a new preserve. You can get some from Amazon here.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables
All vegetables should be washed thoroughly, free of any debris and drained of any excess water. Peel and cut the carrots, horseradish, beetroots and cabbage. You can choose to cut the carrots, beetroots and horseradish in round slices, or matchsticks.
I cut the cabbage in half, and each half in quarters lengthways (semi-circles), leaving as much stalk as possible on, so the leaves do not detach from each quarter.
I chose to slightly smash the garlic cloves and add them with their skin on. You might choose to peel them of course.
I chose to use all the chillies and peppers whole, but you might choose to cut the stem and remove the seeds, and slice them vertically in half.
Step 3: The brine
Bring to a boil 10 litres of water, 10 heaped tbsp of Morton Coarse Kosher Salt and 10 tsp sugar.
Boil for 10 minutes, ensuring that the salt and sugar have dissolved and let the mixture cool down.
It is best to make excess brine and dispose of it after, than having to re-do it if it is not sufficient. You will need some to top up the next day, see last step in this guide.
Step 4: Fill the jars with vegetables
– Place pickling spice mix, garlic cloves and dried dill flowers on the bottom of each jar.
For the 4L Fido jars, I used 3 tbsp of pickling spice mix, c7 garlic cloves and 1 dried dill flower. For the 2L Kilner jars, I used half of these quantities.
– Arrange your vegetables in the jars. I chose to arrange mine vertically, as much as I could and also as close to each other as I could without leaving a lot of space (see pictures). Leave only a little space at the top to insert the celery stalks and additional dried dill flower and pickling spice mix, see next section of this step.
Note: I mixed my vegetables as follows:
2L Kilner jar number 1 – cucumbers with green tomatoes, horseradish and carrots. (You need horseradish and celery stalks in all of them and I also prefer having carrots in all of them).
2L Kilner jar number 2 – I gathered all the red vegetables into this jar, as I didn’t want my golden beetroots or cauliflower coloured, they would turn pink/red from the red beetroots and red cabbage. I also used red and green chilli, piccerella peppers and green tomatoes.
4L Fido jars – I used the same mixture of vegetables in both jars: cauliflower, golden beetroots, carrots, green tomatoes, yellow, orange and red piccerella peppers and chillies.
– Place an additional 1 tbsp of pickling spice mix on top of your vegetables and arrange 2 celery stalks at the top in opposite directions, in such a way to try and hold the vegetables down in the jar, as much as possible.
Step 5: Pour the brine into the jars
As a precaution, place the first jar you wish to fill with brine on a metal rack, in case the mixture is too hot, to avoid the jar from breaking, but it should not happen since you have cooled down the mixture sufficiently. The reason you use cool brine is to maintain the firmness of the vegetables. If you were pickling in vinegar instead of brine, you could use hot mixture as the vinegar helps keep the vegetables firm.
Place the Kilner Stainless Steel Easy Fill Jam Jar Funnel on top of the jar (if you are using one) and use a ladle to pour the cooled mixture into the jar.
Make sure the liquid covers all vegetables completely, including the celery stalks.
Close the lids and leave them overnight.
Step 6: Topping up with brine
The next day, open the jars and top off with the remaining brine ensuring that all vegetables are covered with brine, including the celery at the top.
Note: You will notice that the brine is a bit cloudy, this is perfectly normal. The initial clouding will clear up in time.
Ideally, move the jars near to or to their final location, as next you need to pour 1 tbsp of vinegar at the top of each jar, in a circular motion, covering the entire surface, rather than pouring it all in the middle. You would want to move or shake the jars as little as possible after pouring the vinegar, to ensure this stays at the surface, rather than being mixed too much. The vinegar at the top is needed as a preservative to prevent any fungus forming. The salt within the brine in itself is inhospitable to bacteria and fungi. There is another option, which is to add chemical preservatives, such as sodium benzoate, but I chose not to do so with my pickles. The chemical preservative would increase the shelf life of the pickles, but I do not use it.
Close the lids and store the pickles at 10-15 degrees C. I stored mine in the fridge until the temperature drops later in the year, since I made my pickles in August. They should be stored in a cool place, such as a cellar or cold larder/room.
The pickles should be ready to enjoy in about 4 weeks. They should last over winter. The longer you keep them, the more they change in colour and taste.