It’s that time of year….the garden is beginning to show its first fruits (and veggies) and everything is ripening in the sun! My green beans are abundant, and I pulled my first carrots, gathered some baby cucs, shallots, and squash! The pattipans are especially prolific this year. My apple tree is loaded down (although mine ripen late) and the bees are buzzing happily. Life is good.
But how to preserve all that abundance! Pickles!
In my favorite home away from home (Italy) they make something called giardiniera….which just means pickled vegetables. The Italians make it a hundred ways, but my favorite is veggies cut into bite size pieces and then pickled in spicy brine.
You can virtually use any semi hard raw veggie. Cauliflower, sweet peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, onions, celery, hot peppers, fennel, asparagus, radishes, green beans, watermelon rind, green pea pods, green tomatoes, even small red one as long as they are firm….the sky is the limit.
This is a no brainer for the kids to make as well because there’s no blanching of veggies, no processing, no special jars. As a matter of fact….old pickle jars work just fine!
The kids use serrated picnic knives or some special plastic knives I bought for them to chop the veggies. No need to worry if they get big pieces or small….it all works. The brine is simple too and you can make it as spicy (or not) as you like! There are as many ways to make giardiniera as there are Italian Mothers! Here’s an easy version from “In My Kitchen” by Ted Allen.
- 4 cups water
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Several sprigs fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have them)
- 6 pickling cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 handful green beans
- A few cauliflower florets
- 4 small hot red chilies or 2 jalapeños
*Or use whatever veggies you like best!
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and add garlic. (Simmering the garlic in water cooks out sulfur compounds that otherwise will cause the cloves to turn a harmless but very unappetizing blue-green color from the acid in the vinegar.) Cook garlic for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat.
In two sterile 1-quart canning jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of the veggies and chilies (you want them to be tightly stuffed).
Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over vegetables to cover completely, let cool and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, better after a couple of days. And they’ll keep for about 3 months.
Note: Keep the chilies whole for a mild heat, or cut them in half for additional kick.
PER SERVING (2 pickles): calories: 17 (7% from fat); protein: 0.6 gram; total fat: 0.1 gram; saturated fat: 0; cholesterol: 0; sodium: 204 mg; carbohydrate: 4 grams; dietary fiber: 0.8 gram