If you are new to pickling, check out these techniques before you try pickling for the first time, and try the bonus watermelon rind recipe.
The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard is a useful tool for new canners. Find basic canning techniques as well as helpful hints to make the process easier. Small-Batch Canning is perfect for a small family or harvest, the fruit and vegetables can still be preserved for later use. It also works if you have a large harvest but want to keep some fresh. Find this excerpt in Chapter 6, “Pickle Perfection.”
Pickling can be traced to India, over 4,000 years ago. Today, more than ever, we can revel in the marvelous versatility of pickles which is reflected in the variety of vegetables—and even a few fruits—in our recipes, including Madras Pickled Eggplant, which harkens back to the origins of this condiment.
North Americans are said to eat more than 20 billion pickles each year. The Japanese even eat them for dessert. While it will no doubt be a long time before the cucumber loses its popularity, we weren’t surprised to learn that peppers account for more than 20% of specialty pickle sales. Fire-Roasted Pickled Sweet Red Peppers are one of our favorite specialty pickle recipes since they have so many uses.
Many fruits and vegetables find their way into a pickle. Cucumbers, cauliflower and beets are favorites, but asparagus, sweet cherries and lemons offer interesting variety. Slightly less common, but in our opinion absolutely wonderful, are oranges, pumpkin and watermelon rind. All these can be made in sweet, sour or hot versions and flavored with such herbs as dill, mustard seeds, bay leaf, or peppercorns—the possibilities are endless.
Remember that you need perfect produce for perfect pickles. This means the very freshest produce available. Too long between harvest and preparation can result in hollowed or shriveled pickles. Most pickles need a few weeks to mellow before they are ready to eat.
Pickles are a great way to add interest to just about any meal. They are a wonderful accompaniment to richer meats like pork and ham, helping to cut the fat taste. What self-respecting Rueben sandwich would adorn a plate without a kosher dill pickle? Any of our pickles make handy and welcome gifts, so make extra jars to give to friends.
Make this delightful pickle from a part of the watermelon that is often discarded. Leave a small amount of the pink flesh to give a bit of color. Cut interesting shapes with canapé cutters. The secret of the crisp texture is to add the sugar gradually during the pickling process. The extra two days this requires is well worth the wait.
Makes 2 pint (500 mL) jars.
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