Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Icebox Pickles

I come from a pickling household.
My father's knowledge of pickling and preserving has been passed down to my sister and me. We make pickles for ourselves and our friends. My sister trades her pickles for things like haircuts and bike fixes. If I bring pickles for lunch there will always extra, because I relish the chance to share. And now, at the end of this post, you can all try the recipe.

We make Icebox Pickles. A quick pickle that just needs ten days of refrigeration before consumption, these are as delicious as they are easy. It's nice to play around with the recipes because you get to try them so quickly, you can adjust as you see fit.
Here is one of the classic combos that I like to pickle.
Cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage, along with garlic, hot chilies, bay and black peppercorns; these are one of my tried and true pickles. A great crunch, a sweet brine and a garlicky-spicy finish make these a real crowd-pleaser.

In true wintertime fashion, I had a pickling party to preserve things for the coming months. I bought some cabbage and hot peppers, string beans and onions. I didn't even get a chance to get some Kirby's, or pickling cucumbers as they are also known.

I did however, make an enormous spread of all the various things I had for pickling, and some pickles I had made a few weeks ago!

  Looks like we've got quite a lot going on here!
First, there are the pickling essentials: vinegar, salt, and sugar. Second are the vegetables, and third; the spices.

I made several different pickles with varying degrees of acidity and sugar levels, as well as different flavor profiles with regards to spices and vegetables used.

As friends chopped and salted, I added spices to various jars. We made six jars of pickles, one of them an entire gallon.
This picture shows all the new pickles from left to right: sweet onion and corn pickles with garlic and black pepper; purple carrots with classic pickling spices; the gallon mix of cabbage, hot peppers and string beans; Sichuan beans; "Fireballs," or cocktail onions with searing dried and fresh chilies; and a sweet hot corn relish.

The Sichuan beans have some Sichuan Peppercorns, dried chilies, star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, and black peppercorns. I am excited for these, as I have never used the Sichuan peppercorns in a pickle before. I want these to be hot and numbing, and to have the classic flavor profile that Sichuan food should have with using these peppercorns.

Most of these things I had never pickled before. I had 3/4 of a gallon of standard pickles already, so I thought I would try all new things this go around. Beans, onions, and carrots are all new pickling things for me. I've pickled chopped large white onions before, but not small cocktails.

The Fireballs are cocktail onions with garlic, black peppercorns, a tiny piece of cinnamon, three different kinds of dried chilies (and lots of them) and an entire chopped fresh green chili of medium-hot heat. I'm also pretty excited about these too. They sound good, they have a cool name, and if they turn out the way I want them to, they may just become a new pickle staple of mine.
 Bonus Picture! the pickles all stacked up, including the previous batch!

The purple carrots have lots of standard pickling spices like coriander and mustard seeds. I'm pretty excited about these as well, as I have never personally pickled carrots.

Here is the basic recipe for my Icebox Pickles. It should be said that these can be tinkered with in a variety of ways. The ratio of vegetables will also change the flavors.

Icebox Pickles by William Widmaier

You will need:
Vegetables for pickling (duh) or unripe fruit.
Vinegar - Apple cider, White, Rice Keep in mind, the vinegar you use will affect taste. I use white vinegar because I want a neutral acidity, although sometimes I use half and half apple cider.
Kosher Salt
Sugar - any kind will be okay, but keep in mind how it may affect the flavor. Do not use sugar substitute or powdered sugar.

First, figure out what you want to pickle. I usually pickle cabbage, kirbys, and peppers, but there are a lot of vegetables you can pickle. I like to get one small head of cabbage, two pounds of kirbys, and about three red peppers.

Chop all your vegetables into one inch by one inch squares, and cut the kirbys about 3/8ths of an inch thick.
Layer your veggies in a large jar or Tupperware container. (That's right, icebox pickles don't have to be in a jar!)

After each layer, sprinkle about a teaspoon (or a touch less) of KOSHER SALT on the veggies. It is important you use kosher salt. Regular salt has added iodine in it and will make the pickles bitter. Don't use sea salt either as it often has lots of minerals and things in it that will change the flavor. If the finished product is too salty, use less salt next time. If the veggies are not really sweating out, and there is no pool of water at the bottom after 30 mins, use more salt.

Let the veggies sit for about thirty minutes in the salt. They will sweat out a lot of their water. This is good. Don't rinse them or pour out the salty water.

Add your spices. I like to add between three and eight cloves of garlic, a few hot chilies, two bay leaves, and two tablespoons of black peppercorns.You can add spices in any combination you like, but don't go crazy. You also don't even need to add spices if you don't want to. Sometimes it is really nice to just have the taste of the veggies influence each other.

When the thirty minutes is up, make your brine. This should consist of equal parts by volume water, sugar, and vinegar. I usually use just regular white vinegar or a combination with cider vinegar. Heat this slowly on a stove to combine and then pour over the pickles. Some people like to wait for the brine to cool, but I don't really ever wait. I usually dole it out in a mug: one mug of sugar, one mug of vinegar, and one mug of water.

Cover the veggies and make sure they are submerged in the brine. Let them sit in the fridge for at least a week, but usually ten days is best and enjoy!

1 comment:

William Widmaier said...

If anyone has any further questions about these pickles, feel free to ask me!