Friday, July 30, 2010

First Pickles of the Year!!

This is a week of Firsts... first homemade booze post, and now first pickle post.    I've been growing beets, carrots, peppers, squash and beans for about 3 years now and last year was the first year I successfully pickled them, and they turned out great.

Here are a few pics from the garden.. Choggia ( bullyeye ) beets, bulls blood beets, dragon carrots, pattypan squash, persian (striped) squash, 8 ball squash, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, long yellow beans, and purple beans ( that turn green when you cook them ).  The garden's doing well, even though the crappy spring weather put us about a month behind.

If any of you ever happen to get pickled beets from me, I just want you to know how much work goes into them.

From the first pic you see above, I had to prep the soil, grow the freaking things and harvest.  Then wash off, clean and trim them.   Then they go into boiling water, then into an ice water bath, and then I individually peel off the skins.  At that point ( as seen in the pic ) they're ready to be placed in the jar and pickled.

I use a pretty simple recipe base for almost all my pickles

1 part vinegar ( use whatever type you want.. mostly I use white, but sometimes cider )
3 parts water
1 cup kosher salt
black peppercorns
garlic cloves

For beets, I use the following additional spices
star anise

Use whatever amount suits you.   I add all of the above to the brine, which I then heat to almost boiling. 

When the jars are full, and the brine is ready ( see pic ) I fill em up to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top ( that's called headspace )

don't forget to put a grape leaf or two in the bottom of every jar... the tannis will give you a crunchy pickle.
I also usually  add a few peppercorns, garlic cloves, and jalapeno to each jar... trust me, it's good.

For standard pickles ( cukes, zukes, etc ) I then process in a hot water bath for 10-20 minutes.   Carrots go for 30, as do beets.

when I'm done I wipe them off and let them sit out and cool down.  

How do you know if they're safe? listen for the telltale "pop" which happens when the vaccum seal forms.. you can also tell because the little "button" on top of the lid will be sucked down and concave.

If it doesn't seal properly, put it in the fridge and eat them within a month or two.

Here's what you get for all those hours of work.

Now you guys know why I'd rather give our housesitter cash than pickles :-)


  1. I've had PCP pickles and can personally attest to their greatness! Todd, your recipe is supreme. I'll be dreaming of and hoping for a taste of your pickled beets!! Yummers!

    Btw, Hunter and Shayden will be in town next weekend after all and are hoping to come to Ella's party!

  2. Nice work on the harvest and the pickles. I've been hearing about the culinary splendor of beet pickles and am hoping to try my own this year.