Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In a Pickle

The Frugal Hostess is going away for a few days.  Actually, she feels like she's always going away for a few days.  One of the irritating things about travel is that it often results in spoiled or wasted food.  The Frugals try their hardest to cut back on fruits and veggies when a trip is forthcoming, but they don't always succeed.  Fruit Rescue is one procedure that helps (read about it on our sister blog here), but TFH needed another method to make her food last longer.

[Wouldn't it be cool if at this point in the post we revealed that The Frugal Hostess invented pickling?  Of course, she didn't; it's been around forevah.  But it still rules.]

So, when faced with a pile of okra and green beans before a trip, TFH decided to pickle them.  Please note: canning comes with a bunch of annoying rules, so TFH made refrigerator pickles.  Act like a grown-up and wash the jars, blah blah blah.  If you get botulism, The Frugal Hostess is out of the mix.  She also completely invented the blend of spices by looking at a recipe and her spice cabinet and having the twain meet, as it were, and she encourages you to improvise accordingly.


Some okra and green beans, uncooked
Jars (Figure out, roughly, how many jars' worth of vegetables you have.  You can also throw carrots, onions, and garlic into the mix.)
Vinegar (Like, half a cup per jar.  Ish.)
One bay leaf for each jar
Three slightly crushed garlic cloves per jar
Spice mix (more on this in a minute)


Divide the veggies evenly between the jars (after you cut off anything gross, wash them, etc.  Again, you are an adult).  Stuff 'em in there, but be careful to leave room for the pickling brine.  It's better to have too few vegetables in each jar than too many, in The Frugal Hostess's opinion.

Fill each jar half-way with white vinegar, and add a bay leaf and three cloves of garlic.

Divide your spice mixture (seriously, calm down - explanation is forthcoming) evenly between the jars, then top off with water.

Shake a few times and refrigerate for five days.  After that, eat like crazy.  Or make Bloody Marys like crazy and garnish with your homemade pickle goodness.

Spice Mix Extraordinare

The main spices for a pickling brine are mustard, dill, pepper, and salt.  You want two tablespoon of mustard and dill seeds per jar, one tablespoon of pepper per jar, and a half tablespoon of salt per jar.  The specifics really make only minor difference in taste, so feel free to mix yellow and brown mustard (and powdered versus seeds if necessary), dill weed and dill seeds, and every color of pepper you can rustle up.  Try to use kosher or sea salt, though - larger crystals seem to work better.  Mix all of the spices in a bowl, then add a traditionally sweet spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice - about two teaspoons or so for the whole mixture.  Then divide the spice mixture equal between the jars.

Yo, yo - pickles.

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  1. I pickle. I jam. I candied yam. (apparently I also rhyme). But I've never made anything that didn't involve canning (ie, refrigerator pickles or jam). It's just not how I was raised. I did spend hours and hours measuring and wiping down head space as a child. We used to have a serious pickle day when we'd purchase so many cukes we'd have to wash them in the washing machine on gentle cycle! There were paper grocery bags full of dill, hot peppers, and seeds, and a whole rope of garlic. And of course, about a hundred half-quart jars. My mother and my aunt would do this, using us kids as a labor source, and then half the spoils (perhaps that is a bad name for pickles).

    But in my entire life until I left home, I'd never had a store-bought pickle.

    Wonder what the new generation does for fun?

  2. Dear Anon,
    TFH is extra jealous - she loves pickles and wishes she could make that many. Maybe next summer. Do you have a favorite recipe?

  3. I will have to write my mother: she neglected to include it in the collection she gave me when I left home (boy, was I popular in the dorms). It was a basic spicy dill/garlic pickle. It had at least 5 cloves of garlic a jar! No vampires round our farm. Or neighbors, for that matter. I shall contact the canning mistress.

    Myself, I make a kosher dill from a jewish cookbook. Those are pretty much all rock solid.


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