Great time of year for pickled produce

Great time of year for pickled produce

August 3rd, 2011 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Tailor the flavors of pickled fresh vegetables to fit your preferences, making some spicy and some mild, for example.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

COURTERS' KITCHEN

This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.

BARRY SAYS: To be honest, when Kelley said she was going to pickle a variety of things for this month's Courters' Kitchen, my first thought was of an old bit from comedian Steven Wright. He said, "I have a very large seashell collection. I keep them scattered on the beaches around the world. You might have seen some of them."

In that spirit, I keep all of the pickles I could ever need at grocery stores everywhere. My family didn't pickle, so the idea of pickling your own food is foreign to me. Like so many things, however, homemade pickled vegetables, made with fresh produce, are better than store-bought. You can tailor the flavors to fit your preferences, making some spicy and some mild, for example.

They really do add so much more to a sandwich. Be forewarned: Once you try a homemade pickle, eating one from the store is a letdown. After seeing the beautiful and bountiful produce at Chattanooga Market on Sunday, I'm especially interested in seeing what else we can pickle.

KELLEY SAYS: When I was a young girl, my grandfather would make the best pickles. He would spice them up, just the way I like them. My father reminded me of the grape leaf that was always added to the top. I don't think that added flavor, so perhaps it was just to make the jar look more appealing.

I started with a recipe from an old Food & Wine magazine and made my own adjustments. In addition to the pickles I made this week, I also pickled okra (in curry brine and shallots), jalapenos (with baby carrots and cumin), beets and garlic cloves. I did have to cook the beets for a few minutes to help remove the skin. Also with the beets I added cinnamon and clove with sliced white onions. I'll know how they turn out in about a week. The beauty of the other pickled items is that they can be eaten by the third day.

The next item I would like to try is kimchi, which is Korean pickled cabbage. I've grown to like this over plain rice or added to miso soup for a nice breakfast to start the day.

Spicy Dill Pickles

Cucumbers or other veggie (enough to fill 2 1-quart jars)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (5 percent)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2-3 teaspoons minced dried onion

6 large garlic cloves, halved

4 to 6 long red or green hot chilies, halved lengthwise

16 dill sprigs

The process could not be simpler and should take about 20 minutes. It's as easy as pouring ingredients into a jar.

Put the vegetables into 2 1-quart glass jars. In a third jar, combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, coriander and mustard seeds, onion and garlic. Shake to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add 2 cups of water and pour the brine over the vegetables in the other two jars. Place the chilies and dill between the vegetables. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Put lids on the jars and refrigerate.

Curry Pickles

Cucumbers or other veggie (enough to fill 2 1-quart jars)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 cups unseasoned rice vinegar (4.3 percent acidity)

1/2 cups thin matchsticks of fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

6 large garlic cloves

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

Again, it's a simple process of combining ingredients into a jar and letting them sit at least overnight.

Put the vegetables into 2 1-quart glass jars. In a third jar, combine the salt, sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, curry powder, garlic and mustard seeds. Shake to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add 2 cups of water and pour the brine over the vegetables in the other two jars. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Put lids on the jars and refrigerate.