This has been a fun one. Pickles are pretty yummy right, and I’ve never pickled anything before, so I thought I’d give it a go this year seeing as we had some surplus veg, and jalapenos! So I tried out a couple of different pickling ‘recipes’, and I think I’ve discovered two that I like… and one that I’m not so sure on.
Pickling is a great way to make your food go a bit further, especially if you’ve got surplus veg hanging around that you think might go bad before you can get to it. It’s also a great way of mixing up flavours and adding a little variety to your normal veg; even the yummiest veg gets a bit boring if you cook it the same way too many times. There’s also loads of different herbs and spices you can add to pickles that can add subtle flavours and change the way you eat them.
None of these recipes were difficult, and you don’t need very many ingredients. It probably took me around an hour to do the two jalapeno one’s, and a further hour to do the cucumber one, and a lot of that was just time spent chopping veg. As for ingredients, all you really need is the veg that you want to pickle, some salt, herbs and/or spices, vinegar if your recipe calls for it, water, garlic, and chillies if you want to add any. I think it’s important to state here that even though the three recipes I tried were used on jalapenos and cucumbers, you could use these recipes – or a variation of them – on almost any vegetable. Fruit is different, and I don’t know much about that yet so you’re best off asking google if you want to do fruit… unless you want to make some sloe gin, in which case I’ve got the perfect recipe right here.
So, first things first, you have to decide what it is you want to pickle. I have grown an abundance of jalapenos this year, so I wanted to try pickling those. But I was also given some homegrown cucumbers by a friend who’s had a lot of surplus veg this year, I realised pretty quickly I wasn’t going to eat them all before they went bad so pickling seemed like the most sensible, and interesting, option.
Sweet Pickled Jalapenos
The first recipe I wanted to try is one for sweet pickled jalapenos. I modified it slightly by looking up a few different recipes and picking the different parts I wanted to include in my version. Most of the recipes I looked at called for a lot of sugar, which I don’t think is necessary, so I used less, and think the taste is excellent.
You need: White malt vinegar, water, two garlic cloves, chopped jalapenos, sugar.
I started by chopping up my jalapenos, freshly harvested from my greenhouse, into small rounds that would easily fit into any of the jars I’ve been collecting over the past few months. Then I sliced up a couple of cloves of garlic and decided to use one of my half-size kitchen mugs as a measuring guide… very scientific I know.
In a saucepan mix one cup of white malt vinegar with two cups of water. Add the sliced garlic cloves and heat gently, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has reached a good heat, somewhere between lukewarm and boiling, add two level tablespoons of sugar, I used caster sugar. Most of the recipes I found online called for at least four tablespoons, but I thought that sounded like far too much, and the mixture tasted plenty sweet enough with just the two so I would recommend going for that unless you’ve got a super sweet tooth!
That’s it. Just heat it for a bit to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved; then when you’re happy turn the heat off, put as many jalapenos as you want into the pan and stir. Over about 10 minutes the jalapenos will change colour from the bright green they were when you chopped them to the more beige green you usually see in the supermarket. Then scoop the jalapenos out and into a jar, and pour the remaining mixture on top of them. Repeat to fade if you’ve got more jalapenos. I used a small jar as I was splitting my jalapenos between two recipes so I had a bit of mixture left over which I poured away, don’t worry if this happens. Once you’ve filled your jar or jars just screw on the top and store until you want to have a much.
Recipe No.2, which used the other half of my jalapenos, was a brine recipe. Now, this one I wasn’t so fond of, but I think that’s because I put too much salt in. So as a warning note, be careful how much salt you use – less is more in this recipe.
You need: Water, two garlic cloves, salt, white malt vinegar.
So for this one start the same as the first, chop your jalapenos, and then your garlic. Then put three cups of water into a sauce pan, followed by your garlic, and heat gently until it’s between lukewarm and hot. Add your salt, I added three large tablespoons and it made it very briny, so I would suggest just adding one tablespoon. I also added half a cup of the white malt vinegar as I thought it might help to tackle some of the saltiness. This is up to you. As with the last recipe, when your salt has dissolved add the jalapenos to the saucepan and stir. Interestingly I found with this recipe that the jalapenos didn’t change colour – so I think it may be something in either the vinegar or the sugar that causes this. Then scoop your jalapenos into a jar and cover with mixture until the jar is full. Repeat until your out of jalapenos or mixture or both, screw on the lid and store until you fancy a munch.
As I said, I don’t rate this recipe, but I think that’s because I put too much salt in it. Try it with just a little salt and let me know if it’s any better!
Hot Pickled Cucumbers
I can’t decide my favourite between this recipe and the first, both are equally yummy… but in different ways.
You need: Cucumbers, water, dried chillies, 3 garlic cloves, white malt vinegar, salt, black peppercorns, allspice – or similar.
If you’ve had a crack at the other recipes you’ll find this one much the same. Start by chopping your cucumbers, I had a mixture of round yellow ones and longer green ones, so I decided to slice them as evenly as I could. Chop your garlic at this stage too.
Once your cucumbers and garlic are prepared put three cups of water and two cups of white malt vinegar into a saucepan, add the garlic and heat gently. At this point, if you don’t have pre-crushed chillies, crush your dried chillies (as many as you want depending on how hot you want your pickle to be), and then add these to the mix. Add a little salt from the salt cellar, and some ground black peppercorns, and stir in a little spice – most of the recipes I found called for allspice and cloves but I didn’t have any of those so I just added a little cinnamon. If you like, you can also add a little sugar, but I would be careful as this recipe seems to end up fairly sweet anyway. I heated my mixture for a good half an hour, stirring regularly, to make sure that all the flavours mixed together, and I tried it a few times and adjusted it by adding more of some flavours. Feel free to play around with it, that makes it more fun!
When I was happy with the flavour of the mixture I put all the pieces of sliced cucumber into a jar and poured the mixture over the top until the jar was full. And that’s it, you now have pickled cucumbers. Close up your jar, and store until you fancy eating some.
So that’s my three recipes for pickles, shared with you. I would definitely recommend trying the first and the third, by all means try the second but do be careful with the salt. I’m going to try it again when I get some more jalapenos, but if you give it a go before I do then let me know what you changed and how it turned out!
Happy pickling 🙂