The only exact things about this recipe are the measurements for the brine. Everything else is up for grabs – the amount of garlic or dill, the amount of heat you want, the vegetable or vegetables you use in your pickle, and even the amount of pickle you want to make. Unused brine can be poured into a glass container and refrigerated for future use*. Simply bring back to the boil before using for your next batch.
For the brine:
- 8 c water
- 2 c cider vinegar
- 2/3 c kosher salt
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1 T alum
- 1 T cream of tartar
For the pickle:
- garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- onion or shallot, cut into wedges
- dill sprigs and flower heads (or dill seed when fresh is not available)
- chili flake (optional)
- peppercorns (optional)
Various trimmed, raw vegetables, individually or any combination. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- bell peppers
- green or yellow beans
- green tomatoes
- hot peppers
- sugar snap peas
- rainbow chard stems
- romanesco broccoli
Combine the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Stir occasionally until salt and sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
Meanwhile, prepare your jars: layer clean, sterilized mason jars starting with garlic, dill, onion and spices. Then, a layer of vegetables. Give the jar a good tap or two on the counter to encourage the vegetables to settle, and continue with another layer of garlic, dill and onion, and another layer of vegetables, tapping the jar as you go. Continue until your jars are tightly packed.
Pour hot brine into the packed jars until the vegetables are completely covered by liquid and leave uncovered and at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Cover and refrigerate. Pickles are ready to enjoy in as little as 2 days, but get better with time.
* Or! Be adventurous and try pickle brined chicken! Marinate a whole chicken or parts in the brine overnight. Drain and discard the brine and blot the chicken dry. Grill or roast as usual.
Tenille Enger is an amateur cook and gardener with a passion for moments when the two intersect. She was a contributor to Taste the Local Difference® in both digital works and in print. You can contact her at [email protected].