I am on a mission friends.
I am going to pickle all the things.
I’ve mastered marmalade. I’ve mastered jam. I can can tomatoes drunk and barely awake, or hungover and almost asleep. There remains but one canned mountain I have yet to climb (pressure canning doesn’t count).
Marisa McClellan, author of the incredibly useful Food in Jars, has started a new column at Serious Eats – “In a Pickle.” And let me tell you, it is CALLING to me. It’s a good match, you see. I come home from the market with mounds of produce. Some I freeze, most I eat. The gobs of arugula I turn into pesto (more on that later). The tomatoes I can, the plums become jam. It’s still not enough.
Upon reading McClellan’s column a few weeks ago, she ended with the following:
“Try them on your Thanksgiving cheeseboard“
It took some doing though. After checking Target, Whole Foods, Yes! Market, Giant, and calling the Spice and Tea Exchange, Safeway, and Harris Teeter, and Hill’s Kitchen, I could not find pickling salt ANYWHERE. This is when it’s good to have a food scientist in your rolodex. A quick consult to the Twitters, and Brock informed me that my kosher salt was just fine. (aside: pickling salt is pure salt, and doesn’t contain iodine, anti-caking agents, or other impurities, which can give you a cloudy brine. Brock said that the anti-caking agent in kosher salt- I used Morton’s- is fine, and wouldn’t cloud the brine. I should probably also mention that Brock is directly responsible for my canning prowess. Thanks Brock!)
Fully stocked, I soldiered on. Lacking whole cloves, I used star anise. I’ve left out detailed instructions for canning, but I’m happy to answer questions. I’ll cover canning in a later post.
Pickled Seckel Pears
Adapted from Marisa McClellan, Serious Eats
- 3 pounds Seckel pears
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoon pickling salt (I ground kosher salt with a mortar and pestle and measured 2 teaspoons)
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks, broken
- 5 star anise pods
- 15 peppercorns
- Other things: 5 pint jars with tops, basic canning setup: stockpot, tongs, funnel, jar lifters, dishtowels
1) Take the tops of the jars and rings off, place them in a heatproof bowl with the tongs and funnel. Place the jars upside down in a 225-250 degree oven to sterilize.
2) While the jars sterilize, wash, halve, and core your pears (I used a melon baller, at McClellan’s recommendation). Sterilize the jar tops, funnel and tongs in boiling water
3) Once the jars are cool, divide the cinnamon stick bits, peppercorns, and star anise among the jars. Pack the pears, cut side down, in the jars, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
4) In a medium pot, mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt, and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, use the funnel (or pour into a pyrex cup) to pour the brine into the jars, leaving a half inch of head space. Tap and use a spatula to get any air bubbles out.
5) Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, no more, no less. When done, remove the jars and let them cool on the counter.
I should note, when I did this, I could only fit 3 jars at a time in my pot. The first batch, with two jars, fell over, and I wasn’t so sure about the seal. The beauty of pickles is that if you don’t want to go through the canning process, or something goes wrong, just stick them in the fridge. Instant refrigerator pickles! I actually used them for a party this past weekend, but we’ll get to that later. At some point, I’d like to try these with cardamom pods, because really, who doesn’t love cardamom?
Now, does anyone know where I can get some mustard seeds?