So how did our ancestors survive bitter cold Alberta winters without getting scurvy from malnourishment? Answer: pickling! Not that I would recommend that you get all of your required daily vegetable intake from pickles every time winter hits, but most of us can agree that the salty vegetable snack is always a nice treat, especially served with some fancy meats, cheeses and olives.
When the harvest hits in the late summer and early fall, there are too many vegetables to eat. A great and tasty way to keep them from spoiling is to pickle them.
So this year, Jackie and I decided that we would embark on an ambitious pickling adventure. I had only pickled once in my life, and Jackie had never done it before at all, so we both had a lot to learn as we went.
For my part, I relied heavily on my nana for tips. My nana pickled and cans everything, from salsa and pizza sauce to jam, and vegetables to relish. I have been eating her tasty pickled carrots as long as I can remember, and they are my favourite to this day. For our pickling, my nana gladly provided me with her pickled carrot and pickled beet recipes, as well as tons of other tips on sanitation and the process that made our pickling day possible. She also gave us a whole bunch of garlic to use, right out of her garden. You can see how she braided it in the picture, she says this helps it keep a little longer. I just think it looks really beautiful!
Jackie’s number one source of info was her mom. Coming from a Polish family, Jackie has always enjoyed her mom’s spicy European style pickles. Jackie’s mom was a great help providing us with ingredients, directions, and support, answering our dozens of questions.
So equipped with jars, a 4L bottle of vinegar, a ton of pickling salt, as well as various ingredients and vegetables from the farmer’s market, we got started.
We made four different types of pickles. They are as follows:
I love pickled beets, so making these was a must for me. They are a little more work as they had to be boiled and peeled in advance. Additionally, we had to use the canner for these ones. We got the recipe from my nana, who got it from her older sister Rose, so it is being passed down!
Pickled Asparagus and Beans
This one was a bit of a wild card for us. We combined beans, asparagus and red peppers and attempted to make a zesty vinegar brine featuring turmeric. We used the canner for them as the internet seemed to suggest this. It turns out that because vegetables have varying levels of acidity, some need to be put in the canner while others don’t.
European Pickled Cucumbers
For the cucumbers, we followed Jackie’s mom’s method which involves a fermentation process instead of a vinegar brine. We added garlic, dill seed and chunks of fresh horseradish from Jackie’s mom’s garden. With these, you have to leave them out for about 2 weeks so they can ferment, and then put them in the fridge or a cold room to stop the fermentation process. Mine are still out, and I will have to move them to the fridge in a few days.
Pickled Carrots (Our Recipe!)
My nana’s classic, these are pretty straightforward. And the good news is, they don’t need to be put in the canner. Peel your carrots and add put them in the jar with garlic and dill. Pour your hot brine in the jar and put the cap on. As the jars cool they will seal.
So 5 hours, 28 jars and 4 varieties of pickles later, we boasted quite the yield!
- It is very important to properly sanitize your jars. I added a pretty detailed sanitization process on the recipe document, so make sure you be careful and follow them. It was all advice from my nana.
- You might want to consider getting a pickling kit (we got ours from Canadian Tire) This includes a wide funnel, jar tongs for the canner and a magnet to pick up hot metal lids that have been soaking in boiling water.
- Let your jars sit overnight while they cool before moving them, so you don’t disturb the sealing process.
- Some jars will seal quickly and others take some time. If there are some jars that aren’t sealed by the time they are cool the next day, put those pickles in the fridge and eat them first. They will be pickled in a few days, depending on the size of the carrots used.
Ingredient I can’t live without:
Ok well I have been living without this one until just a few weeks ago, and I have yet to try the pickles. But I find this a very curious ingredient and will have to learn more about it.
Spice/herb of the week:
A key ingredient in so much pickling.
Special thanks to my nana and Jackie’s mom for all their help. A hard afternoon’s work was worth it, as now Jackie and I have a year’s worth of pickles!
Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Nana’s Pickled Carrots
Nana’s Pickled Carrots
Makes 7 – 8 one quart jars
You will need:
Tops with rubber rings – these you will have to use new
Buy a pickling kit that contains wide funnel, magnet for caps, tongs for using canner.
12 cups water
4 cups vinegar
1 cup sugar
½ cup pickling salt
VERY IMPORTANT TO USE PICKLING SALT! Other salt might cause vegetables to spoil.
In jar add:
To sanitize jars:
Put them in the dishwasher. Rinse after removing from dishwasher to remove any residue agent from dishwasher.
Right before pickling, spoon boiling water in jars, at least half full. Cover with towel and let sit for about 5 minutes before emptying.
Soak the cap (not the ring) in boiling water right before use. This sterilizes and softens the rubber so it seals better.
Fill jars with peeled carrots, cloves of garlic and fresh dill.
Bring brine to a boil, pour over carrots in the jars. Wipe the jars and then on the tops followed by the rings. Wiping will remove any salt or brine from the edge of the jar. Tighten rings but not too tight.
Jars will snap when sealed. Let jars stand overnight to cool before moving. If you move too soon you can loosen the seal.
If a jar doesn’t seal, use that jar first. Put in the fridge and they will be ready to eat in a few days time. Smaller vegetables pickle quickly.