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In a Summer Pickle: A Guide to Preserving Sunshine!

2011 July 27

By Brianna BainAbundance is mine in the form of an overflow of beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers pouring into my kitchen each day. This year I took the the advice of Karen Contreras, owner of Urban Plantations and planted three times what I thought I needed. This advice, passed down by her grandmother goes something like: “plant for the weather, the critters and you” – ensuring a variable harvest that leans toward “more is better” and avoids all total losses. An idea I thought to be wise but one that would result in me adopting new food prep and storage skills.  I didn’t think it possible but the weather is great and the critters are minding their own.  That leaves the ‘YOU’ in the equation and now I have three times as much of everything!  I have found myself floating in a pickle of my own veggies.  Whether you have an abundance or not pickling Summer veggies is a fun and interesting way to mix things up on your menu.  So, I share with you a guide of sorts, to making your own Summer pickle.

CLICK HERE for the full post and a Spicy Curry Green Bean Pickle Recipe!

Pickling is a  food practice that dates back thousands of years.  Pickles proudly stand alone among condiments and snacks for their signature crunch, unique flavors and health benefits. I read somewhere that Aristotle praised the healing benefits of the pickle and that Napoleon often fed pickles to his army. Beyond the pleasing sensory features of pickles, they are a must for preserving portions of a large harvest. Plus having pickles on hand allows you to enjoy Summer all year long in a variety of recipes. Drink garnishes, appetizers, chopped into cool Summer salads,  served solo as snack or mixed into tuna or chicken for homemade flavor unlike any store bought pickle.

The next question before me was – how to pickle? Before I got busy pickling I reviewed a few different methods. There are two major ways of pickling veggies that I know of: 1. A mixture of vinegar and water or  2. Fermentation or sour pickling. If interested in maximizing the health benefits of pickles then you will want to opt for method #2 as the fermentation process creates a brine that is filled with a slew of beneficial microorganisms that aid in digestion. The fermentation process for pickling can be a bit tricky to grasp and takes a attentive eye for temperature regulation. You can read more about this process in Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation. For my pickling experience I opted for method #1: a mixture of 1:1 vinegar and water with a combination of spices put through a typical canning process.

It is important to remember that cucumbers are not the only thing worth pickling. There are so many delicious pickled veggies to explore. I chose beans and early harvest green tomatoes. For spices I went with intuition but also followed a general outline for dill pickling: dill, garlic, salt and pepper. I  also added dried chillies, mustard seed and celery seed for some spice and depth of flavor. There are pickling spice packages you can purchase if you are not feeling up to making your own, but I encourage you to experiment and turn out your own unique flavors. I started by looking at some pickles that I loved and found turmeric, cumin and other interesting spices I would not have thought to add.  This discovery inspired a curry pickling journey. It feels a bit risky but I am sharing my recipe with you with full disclosure that I have no idea what they will taste like. I will be sure to update my recipe as soon as I know!

In the mean time use this recipe as a template, add to it and play with your favorite spices. Pickling seems to be very forgiving so don’t be afraid and see what happens.

Spicy Curry Pickled Beans

Yield:  6- 24 oz ball jars

Prep time: 1-1.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 6lbs of beans ( used mostly Kentucky pole beans)
  • ~ 9 cups of white distilled vinegar
  • ~ 9 cups of water
  • ~1/3 cup Powdered Yellow Curry
  • ~1/3 cup of sea salt
  • 12 dried chilies ( I used Arbol)
  • 6-12 garlic cloves

Directions:

  1. Wash and trim beans
  2. Add spices to each jar: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp curry powder, 1-2 chillies, 1-2 garlic cloves
  3. In a medium saucer bring a 1:1 mix of vinegar and water to a boil.
  4. Stuff beans or desired veggies into jars, making sure you can still close the lid.
  5. In a large stew pot fill half way and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour vinegar and water mixture over veggies into jar leaving 1/2 to 1 cementer of space.  With hot mitts on, place lid on jar and make sure it’s tight.
  7. Place jar in stew pot with boiling water for 10 minutes. Set heated jars aside and wait for the “Pop” that lets you know it is sealed!
  8. Store your jars of pickled goods some where cool for 4- 6 weeks before you enjoy them.

*You can also try  a refrigerator style pickle which allows you to skip step 7. For this method you would lid your jars, let cool and put in the refrigerator. You can enjoy fridge style pickles right away, as they may get a little funky if you wait too long. Whichever way you decide to pickle your Summer goods, may you find inspiration in my pickled curry beans and experiment with something new!

My next adventure in pickling is hot carrots… Happy Pickling Everyone!

I would love to hear what your are pickling this Summer leave a comment below and share your favorite recipe tips.

  • Heather

    Perfect timing for this post, as tonight I am doing my first batch of dill pickles for this year.  Today I was browsing the internet looking for a pickling spice recipe.   Looking at the jars lined up on the counter, I’ll be going with mustard seed, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, our own garlic, hot pepper and dill seed.  I’m keeping a notebook this year to record the successes and deltas of our experiments.
    We pickled garlic scapes last month and can’t wait to taste them.

    • Brianna

      Heather, I always forget about the magic of a bay leaf. Your ginger addition sounds great!   Maybe I will try adding some ginger to my hot carrots thins year – Yum. Thanks for sharing your pickle with us!

  • Marc

    Here’s a new one for you.  I pickled the onion heads of my Egyptian Walking Onions.  Yes, I peeled each one of those little suckers.  Crazy.  I posted the adventure on my blog (MarcsGarden.com).  I love to “put-up” the summer harvest and really enjoyed your post.

    • Brianna

      Thanks Marc. Your onion pickle sounds like something I would like to try. Pickles onion are soooo tasty!

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