The other night my husband and I were guests for dinner at a friend’s home and she had a beautiful charcuterie board all set up with not only assorted cheeses nuts and crackers, but she also pulled a cold jar of pickled veggies out of her refrigerator to go with the items on the board.  Now, I’m going to confess.  I am not very good at making sure that I get the suggested amount of vegetables eaten daily.  So, when she pulled out this jar of canned vegetables, I wasn’t all that impressed.  But then…..  I tried one.  It was a small cut of cauliflower and a small cut of broccoli, and it was DELICIOUS! They were flavorful with a nice crunch to them. Just the perfect amount!

This time of year is such a great time to visit your local farmer’s market because a good amount of farm fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available.  The fact that they are also locally grown is also a big incentive to purchase them from your local markets.  Go early to get there before the good stuff is taken and bring some reusable bags for your fresh goods!  I also like to make a quick walk around the various stands to look at the quality of their produce as well as their pricing, then I’ll go back to whichever stand I’ve decided on.  Another great tip that I learned while visiting produce markets in Europe is to be respectful of the farmers when checking for ripeness of the fruits and vegetables.  Squeezing can damage the produce, so if at all possible, I really try not to touch it. Ask the farmers questions and ask them to point out their best and ripest produce.  Not only will they have a great eye for the best, they will also be thrilled to have someone who cares enough about the quality of their food to ask. 

carrots, vegetables, fresh
Yummy fresh veggies!!

I decided to pickle several vegetables which included broccoli, green beans, cauliflower and carrots.  The prep time is only about 20 minutes, with a cook time of only 5 minutes.  My recipe below is for 4 quart sized jars of pickled vegetables, but you can pickle as little or as much as you’d like.  Just adjust the recipe to accommodate, such as dividing it in half for 2 quart size jars.  I would suggest not opening the jar for 48 hours from the pickling process as they will improve with flavor as they age.  However, since the jars are not processed with the traditional sealed and canned steps, they will only last in your refrigerator for around 3-4 weeks. 

spices, jars, herbs
Herbs and spices!

Use vegetables that are super fresh, but you can use most any vegetable. I would shy away from vegetables that are too soft however. You can also choose the shape you want them in, such as peeled carrots, and then sliced matchstick size or in coins. If your doing green beans, blanch them for about 2 minutes and then shock them in an ice bath to preserve their color. And don’t think that you have to stick with the spices noted in the recipe below.  The sky’s the limit!  Fresh herbs such as dill, oregano and rosemary hold up well.  Dried herbs such as thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano or marjoram are also great additions.  How about some fresh garlic or peeled and thinly sliced ginger?  It’s also good to incorporate some whole spices such as mustard seed, coriander, peppercorns or red pepper flakes. 

When I was younger and we would visit family in Kansas, I always loved to watch my aunt can her summer produce.  Her garden was always overflowing with beautiful fruits and vegetables. She would take me out with her early in the morning, before the heat of the summer set in, and we would carefully pick them one by one.   We would then come inside, she would make a big pitcher of sweet tea for us to drink after being in the hot sun, and then she would start her process of canning food for their family’s winter supply.  I treasure those memories and they will never leave me.  So, if you have the opportunity to have your child, grandchild, or even a neighbor’s child help with the canning process, even better !!!

ANY-VEGGIE REFRIGERATOR PICKLES

            Ingredients:

               6 cups white vinegar

               6 Tbsp. kosher salt

               3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

               8 garlic cloves, peeled

               2 Tbsp. coriander seeds

               2 Tbsp. mustard seeds

               2 tsp. red Chile flakes

               8 dill sprigs

            3-4 lbs. assorted vegetables , cut as desired

  1. Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve salt and sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, place 2 garlic cloves, ½ Tbsp. coriander seeds, ½ Tbsp. mustard seeds, ½ tsp. Chile flakes, and 2 dill sprigs into each of the 4 (1-quart) glass jars with lids.  Arrange vegetables in jars.  (Note:  Be sure to wash the jars with warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly and completely hand dry before starting the canning process)
  3. If pickling hard vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or radishes, pour hot pickling liquid over vegetables until fully submerged.  If using softer vegetables, such as cucumbers or peppers, remove the pickling liquid from the heat and cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes, before pouring over the vegetables. 
  4. Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 weeks.  Enjoy !!!

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