Mornings in Warsaw we’d step into the biting cold and cross the underpass to the bodega wedged up besides Bazar Rozyckiego, where we’d get a tub of pickles – enough to feed a crowd who loves pickles so much that they´d eat 3 apiece before 10am – for just a little over one American dollar. When we returned to New York, no amount of deli pickle – excellent or otherwise – could fill the fierce craving we’d developed over one week in Poland. So you can imagine our delight when under the tree Christmas morning there lay Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling.
So we got to work. With our New Years eve feast just days away, we opted for two quick pickle recipes – pickles that are ready in three days or less. As it was December, rather than pick through sad looking cucumbers at the grocery store, we headed to the Union Square greenmarket to see what was in season and pickling-appropriate (most things are pickling-appropriate, actually.)
But first, a few notes:
>> Pickling salt is just pure granulated salt, like white sea salt, or kosher salt. It’s not table salt, which is usually fortified with iodide and other extras that will ruin the look of your pickles. (If you go with kosher salt, you’ll need about 1.5x the recipe because the flakes are larger and less densely packed, so a tablespoon is actually less salty.)
>> Both these recipes call for white wine vinegar, which is sweeter and mellower than distilled white vinegar, and makes for a better pickle. However, we couldn’t find reasonably-priced white wine vinegar in the neighborhood (will have to look out for some the next time we’re near a big Middle Eastern grocery store) so we went with distilled, which we had on hand. It turned out fine in the two pickles we chose, which both had strong added flavors to counter the otherwise harsh vinegar.
>> Even though we’re not canning here for the shelf, and vinegar is a great sterilizer-on-contact, we suggest sterilizing your canning jars properly, anyways. Boil them in water for ten minutes and place them mouth side down on paper towels until they’re needed. Boil the canning rings just a moment or they will melt. And make sure you have new canning tops on hand.
–> Cooling the jars of pickles to room temperature before refrigerating is important more for your refrigerator than the pickles, but should be done, either way. We stuck ours out on the fire escape, to make it go faster!
pickled carrots with garlic, dill & jalapeño.
Adapted from The Joy of Pickling
Quite unexpectedly, we came across true baby carrots at the market, and jumped at the chance to use them in this recipe. Not the bizarre regular-carrots-whittled-down-to-pinkie-finger-size baby carrots, but tiny carrots pulled from carrot beds in a process called thinning. They’re perfect carrot replicas, with thin points and the tiniest tufts of green, but they’re sweeter and more tender than full-grown carrots, which makes them perfect for pickling. If you don’t have baby carrots, full grown carrots cut into stalks will work as well.
1 pound 4-inch carrots, scrubbed well and trimmed
1/4 cup minced dill leaves, or 2 whole dill sprigs
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1. Blanch the carrots in boiling water or steam them, for 2 minutes, until they are barely tender. Immerse them in cold water until they are cool.
2. Pack the carrots and dill into a quart jar.
3. In a saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to boil. Pour over the carrots (hot peppers and garlic and all). Cap the jar and let it cool to room temperature.
4. Refrigerate the pickles for 2 days or longer before eating. Refrigerated, these will keep for up to two months.
pickled fennel with orange.
Adapted from The Joy of Pickling
Ok, fennel’s not a winter veggie, but naval oranges abound in December (albeit not locally) and we thought the added brightness of citrus would be a nice touch to the new years festivities.
2 fennel bulbs (about 3/4 pound), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1/2 orange, in thin strips
1 to 2 small fennel sprigs (optional)
6 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp sugar
4 whole black peppercorns, cracked
1. In a bowl, toss the fennel slices with the salt. Let them stand for one hour.
2. Drain the fennel slices, discarding the brine, and toss the slices with the orange zest. Pack them into a pint jar, placing a fennel sprig or two against the side of the jar, for prettiness, if you’d like.
3. In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, orange juice, sugar and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot liquid over the fennel. Cap the jar and let cool to room temperature.
4. Store the pickles in the fridge. They’ll be ready to eat in a day or two, and well keep for several weeks.
we made David Lebovitz’s Picked Red Onions…just to round it out.