What this post is about is time–as in saving it. Like most women, I get supper ready pretty much every day, and feel, not crushed, exactly, but pinched by the various limitations placed on me by time and budget. Eating well, healthily, thriftily, and quickly is not easy. So I have been experimenting with some ways to make dinnertime easier.
My first experiment has been my Sassy Pickles, and they have been a wild success. Why are they Sassy? Well, they are so fresh they are downright sassy! They are also really inexpensive and easy to make. Vegetables such as carrots, cukes, beets, and peppers are washed and trimmed, and packed into recycled jars, along with a pinch of salt, a spice and perhaps an herb, and a vinegar mixture is poured over. The jars are kept in the refrigerator, and the pickles are so fresh and crispy that they are wonderful in salads.
I first tried some cucumbers. I used small cucumbers sometimes called Persian or mini-cucumbers. This variety is becoming more and more common because they are fresher and crisper tasting than the waxy, seedy cucumbers so often available.
I’ve been using 24- or 25-ounce jars. This is a common size–spaghetti sauce is often available in this size jar. Thoroughly clean the jar and lid. To make sure the jar is super clean, I place it in a saucepan with some water, and bring the water to a boil. I let it boil for a few minutes, turning the jar over a few times, and then I turn off the heat, and cover the pan while preparing the vegetables.
For the cucumber pickles I used six cucumbers. I cut off the ends, and then cut each cuke into quarters. I packed the cucumbers into the clean jar. I use a dinner knife to shoehorn the slices in. Packing the vegetables tightly ensures that nothing floats. I also put in some fronds of fresh dill, some whole allspice, and some peeled garlic. Then I poured in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water to which a pinch of salt is added. In most cases, the one cup of the vinegar mixture is enough to cover the vegetables, but, if not, top off with more vinegar.
Here is the opened jar of cucumber pickle. Because the pickles are so fresh. you can slice them into salads.
Emboldened, I took a one pound package of red, yellow, and orange peppers and cut them up. I packed them into a jar, and pickled them as above, adding fronds of washed celery leaves. No need to buy an expensive herb this way!
Carrots came next. I washed and trimmed five medium carrots. I trimmed top and bottom to fit into my 24-ounce jar. Then I cut them into quarters and packed them into the jar. This time I added some dried chilies, for appearance and kick. These carrots are my special favorite, because they are so much tastier than the usual old carrot stick. They’re sassy!
Then I tried beets. Beets not only are tasty, but they are good for your liver. I used two cans of small beets. The small beets look nice, but you can also purchase sliced beets. I packed them with sprays of parsley, but I have learned that anything green packed with beets quickly turns purple, so they are not essential. The size of the small beets differs with the brand, but you can almost fit the contents of both cans into a 24-ounce jar. Once I had one little beet left over, and the other time, two. They can be nibbled on.
Use 24- to 25-ounce jars. Clean thoroughly.
Prepare a vinegar mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water.
See above for quantities and preparation of vegetables.
Pack vegetables tightly into jar, adding a pinch of salt, three peeled garlic cloves per jar (if desired), fronds of dill, celery leaves or parsley, and, if desired, whole allspice, crushed slightly with a cleaver.
(If you used peeled garlic, the cloves may become a bit discolored in the vinegar in a day or two.)
Pour in vinegar mixture.
Close with the lid, and STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR.
You can eat these pickles the next day, but it will be four or five days before the seasonings such as garlic penetrate the vegetables. Note that no sugar is added.
The above pix shows the completed pickles. A homemade seasoned salt mixture is in the foreground. It’s made with a tablespoon each of sea salt, dried parsley, and garlic powder (not garlic salt). I ground them together in a spice grinder, and the mixture was ready to use.
I have already found this mix to be very handy for seasoning chicken and fish. Because it doesn’t contain commercial desiccants, it cakes a bit, but can easily be mixed up a bit with a spoon before using.
A note of caution: I also added some hot pepper flakes to the above mix before grinding. Big mistake! When I opened the grinder, a cloud of pepper dust billowed forth, and I was soon gasping and coughing. So add any hot pepper seeds or cayenne pepper after the other ingredients are ground!
Notice that I am doing this in February–no need to wait until August. I will be trying cauliflower and zucchini next. And, you only need make one jar at a time. How sassy is that? Hope you enjoy. Fran