8 Awesome Pickling Tips, 1 Tasty Recipe

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veggiesembedPhoto: Courtesy of Ada St.
Living in an urban city like Chicago has several advantages — but trying to get farm-fresh produce in the dead of winter isn't one of them. So, before the farmers' markets close up shop, make use of nature's bounty by learning a little pickling 101. But, because this age-old method of preservation takes a little, well, practice, we've got eight tips and one recipe for you to work with, courtesy of Ada St.’s chef Zoe Schor. Happy pickling!

Tips:
1. Locally, during August, veggies in their prime include peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, as well as cucumbers and okra as we move into September.
2. In the spring and summer, the seasons of your favorite vegetables are short. Keep enjoying your beans, asparagus, and peppers into fall and winter by pickling them.
3. When choosing vegetables for pickling, choose ones that not only taste good but have beautiful color and texture as well; baby carrots are bright orange and still have a crunch when you pickle them. Wax beans keep their snap, and radishes and onions stand up well, maintaining their bite.
4. You can use different ratios of vinegars, but make sure whatever you choose to use, it's something with light or no color. Champagne and white wine are standards, but you can also play around with rice wine. A little bit of white distilled vinegar in the mix will help brighten it up and keep your pickling liquid from getting too sweet.
5. Make sure not to put too much of any one spice into your pickling liquid. A little bit of star anise, cloves, and allspice goes a long way. Too much and the flavor will be overpowering.
7. Pickles are not only delicious but beautiful to look at. If you put your pickles in clear jars, you can put them around your kitchen for a splash of color.
8. Never pull pickles out of a container with your fingers — always use utensils. Your hands can introduce bacteria into the pickles and cause them to go bad.

Pickling Liquid Recipe

Ingredients:
3 quarts white distilled vinegar
1 quart champagne vinegar
1 gallon water
2 quarts white granulated sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt


Sachet
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 tsp corriander
3 each allspice
1 each star anise
3 each bird’s eye chiles
4 each bay leaf

Directions
1. Make a sachet using cheesecloth and butcher’s twine.
2. Combine all ingredients in large stock pot.
3. Bring to a boil, whisking to incorporate salt and sugar.
4. Pour over blanched vegetables while still hot.

Pickled Yellow Wax Beans Recipe

Ingredients
2 lbs yellow beans
2 gallon salted water
Ice bath
1 qt pickling liquid

Directions
1. Bring water to rolling boil.
2. Drop the beans in and allow to cook until fork tender — about 2 minutes.
3. Using a strainer, pull the beans out and put into ice bath to cool.
4. Pour pickling liquid over the beans.
5. Seal in an airtight container.