The time finally came. I filled up our freezer with green beans, okra, eggplant and peppers from the community garden plot, our backyard garden and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) deliveries. I suggested to my husband, Patrick and son, Calvin, that we invest in a small freezer for our shed so that I could freeze more. Well, that did not go over so well. The suggestion was that perhaps I needed to find a new hobby. Okay, I admit, I have enough in the freezer to get us through the heart of winter. Further, given the frequent power outages in our area, it is risky business to have too much frozen goods on hand. I already have an evacuation plan for my freezer where Teuta, a friend who lives in the city, will let me use her freezer as the back up, should we lose power. We were about to take her up on it during hurricane Irene but our power came on just as we were making the arrangements.
So, I was in a pickle. I had to come up with another way to preserve. Teuta recommended pickling. She said they pickle everything in Kosovo. Ah, yes! I remembered my time in Bosnia and Kosovo and how pickled vegetables kept us going during the winter (and year around, actually). So I researched recipes. Then I rounded up the various ingredients that would be needed. This took me quite a few trips because finding the variety of pickling spices was not easy as not all of them are frequently used.
Then my 8 year old son Calvin and I got to pickling. We used a few different recipes so we could do taste tests and determine which combination we preferred. It was fun and a lot less difficult than I had envisioned before we started. I also realized that the combination of spices is flexible and can be adapted to taste. A pickle can be a simple affair with just the use of a few sprigs of fresh dill. Or it can be more complex with a bit of spices including dill weed, celery seed, mustard seed, coriander seed and dill seed. Not to mention fresh garlic!
Here is the recipe for the winner of Calvin’s taste test:
Pickled Cucumbers or Peppers
2 – 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 – 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sea salt
3 garlic cloves
1 – 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 – 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 – 1/2 teaspoons coriander seed
3 teaspoons dill seed
3 sprigs of fresh dill
(1) Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Reduce heat and keep to a soft boil.
(2) Put 1 garlic clove, 1 sprig of fresh dill, 1 teaspoon dill seed and 1/2 teaspoon each of the mustard seed, celery seed, coriander seed and dill seed into each of three hot and sterilized pint jars.
(3) Pack cucumbers (or peppers) into the three jars. (I used three medium-sized cucumbers.)
(4) Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remover air bubbles, adding more liquid if need be to get it back to 1/2 inch headspace.
(5) Wipe the rim; center the lid on the jar; screw the outer band to a fingertip-tightness.
(6) Process the filled jars in boiling water of a hot water canning pot for 15 minutes with the canning lid on. Remove canning lid. Leave in for 5 minutes more.
(7) Cool and store on a wire rack.