Have you ever made pickles at home?
Until recently, I would not have thought to do this- to make homemade pickles. And, I love pickles. And, I love to cook. So I’m a little upset that I hadn’t thought of doing this sooner considering they are one of my favorite foods to snack on.
I love all different kinds of pickles: the super garlicky whole ones, the bright crinkle-cut buttery sweet ones, the cute little gherkins. And before recently, the only pickles I had eaten were the jarred kind you buy in the grocery store.
And then, I came home one day, and entire apartment smelled like vinegar. The fumes wafting my way were so strong that I thought my roommate, Lindsay, was using it to clean our coffee machine.
I entered the kitchen to find her pouring a boiling pot of spices, herbs and an apple cider vinegar/water/sugar mixture over blanched carrots.
I picked one carrot out of the steaming liquid, and then another. She slapped the top of my hand. Grinning, she hollered, “Stop!” and placed the container on a cooling rack on the counter top furthest from my reach. “It’s so they can reach their best.”
“They need to sit over time and ferment. They will be more flavorful tomorrow,” Lindsay continued. “And even better the day after, and the day, actually week, after that.”
Taking my friend’s advice, I waited. Not patiently, but I waited. And, just like she said, the carrots got better and better over time. And more nutritious too.
Fermentation, including the act of pickling, is an ancient way of preserving foods. When preserved correctly, foods are as, if not more, nutritious after the fermentation process than when plucked out of the ground, or picked off the vine.
Now, I’m obsessed. I want to pickle everything! First, like Lindsay showed me, I started with carrots. Then, I tried zucchini. Next, green beans. They. Are. All. So Good. Pickled.
And, a tasty, nutritious snack too- if you are the crunchy, salty yet sweet kind of snack person like I am.
I haven’t tried to pickle cucumbers yet, like the kind normally found soaking in all those different juices in the grocery store, because there are so many more interesting vegetables to experiment with.
Here- start with carrots like I did. And then, go from here. It’s super easy, and a super fun homemade pickling recipe.
Lindsay’s Pickled Carrots
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup cane sugar or agave
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
1 bay leaf
2-3 whole cloves
dry chili flakes to taste
some fresh herbs (like basil, rosemary and thyme, or whatever is in fridge, potted plant or garden)
a few pieces of fennel, sliced thin
a small bunch of carrots, peeled, and cut the way you like them
Blanch the carrots. Drain and set aside in a reusable storage container.
Then, boil all the other ingredients together and pour over the carrots. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the carrots. If not, add a little water.
Seal the airtight container, and store carrots in the pickling brine in the fridge for up a month- or as long as you can last without you eating them all!