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Tickle My Pickle


I am a terrible gift giver. Maybe even the worst ever. I literally start panicking before someone's birthday or an occasion if I have to give a gift. It's not that I don't want to give one, but rather the idea of picking the right one is way too much pressure. Even after expending hours of time thinking and dwelling on the right present match, I usually miss the mark. I would much prefer to give a gift certificate, but apparently that's frowned upon. And in all honesty, I lose almost every gift card I have ever received. Point taken.

So instead, my most successful gifts are ones of the kitchen. Maybe it's a small appliance (can we say Vitamix??) or a cookbook, or maybe it's a beautifully wrapped linzer tart with the tart pan included. But I usually stick to what I know best and don't venture too far from it.

For this Father's Day, I decided I’m going to give homemade pickled vegetables. I have always loved the idea of pickling my own vegetables. The old school looking jars filled with different colors and flavors. And what man doesn't like pickled anything? Mastering the pickled vegetable can also be put to perfect use during BBQ season. This gift is always well received.

Deciding on your vegetable can be as easy as seeing what's in your fridge or as detailed as picking a flavor you are in the mood for. Today I decided to do cucumbers, cauliflower and carrots. I don’t like pickles that are too strong. I like subtle flavors with not too much sugar. All the pickling recipes below have a similar base with some water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Depending on the vegetable, the flavorings will be different and the salt to sugar ratio will be different.

Classic Cucumber Pickles with Mustard Seed

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Yield: 16-20 slices of pickles, 1 jar

Rating: No experience necessary, easy peasy

Ingredients:

6 Kirby cucumbers or 8-10 Persian/Israeli cucumbers

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar

¼ cup white sugar

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1 small onion, sliced long and thin

3 fresh cloves garlic

1 tablespoon mustard seed

Directions:

Put your water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a pot and bring up to a boil over a medium flame. After it starts boiling, stir the liquid to ensure that all the sugar and salt has dissolved. Turn off the fire and let the liquid cool completely.

Slice your cucumbers - cut Kirby cucumbers in 4, and Israeli in half. Using an air tight container (like a Ball jar) start filling it with your cucumbers and layering your onion in between. Sprinkle in your mustard seed and place your 3 cloves of garlic on top. Pour over your cooled liquid and seal the container.

Leave it in your fridge for at least 5 days before using. 1-2 weeks is ideal before cracking it open. Keep them in your fridge for up to 4 months from the day you’ve made them.

Pickled Cauliflower

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Yield: 1 large jar

Rating: The seasoning I used in the cauliflower may not be something you have on hand but this is a very simple recipe to execute - and very impressive.

Ingredients:

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into medium pieces and washed

2 ½ cups water

1 cup white distilled vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon coriander seed

½ teaspoon cumin seed

½ teaspoon mustard seed

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

Place your water, vinegar, sugar, salt and turmeric in a pot and bring to a boil under a medium flame. Once it boils, stir the liquid to make sure all the seasoning has dissolved. Remove the pot from the fire and allow it to cool completely.

Take your cauliflower, garlic, coriander, cumin, mustard seed and red pepper flakes and layer them into a clean glass jar with an air tight lid (like a Ball jar). Pour the liquid into the jar and seal it. Store it in your refrigerator for at least 5 days before opening – and the longer the better (some people do 2-3 weeks). You can store in the fridge for up to 4 months.

NOTE: The cauliflower I had on hand was pretty huge so I needed to double the rest of the recipe and make 2 jars. The recipe above is for a very small cauliflower.

5 Spice Pickled Carrots

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Yield: 1 jar

Rating: Very easy but you may not have the Chinese Five Spice seasoning on hand.

Ingredients:

2 pounds carrots – washed, peeled and sliced into sticks

2 ½ cups water

1 cup white distilled vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground Chinese Five Spice seasoning ( ¼ teaspoon will be very mild, if you like things stronger – up it to ½ teaspoon)

1 clove of garlic