Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Frugal Food: Giardiniera

This weekend I headed out to the local flea market and green market. While I perused the stalls one thing really caught my eye, and my nose! One vendor was selling pickles. Far beyong just pickled cucmbers this stall had pickled tomatoes, pickled mushrooms and my personal favorite: a pickled vegetable assortment known as Giardiniera. The spicy sweet smell wafted over and followed me all the way home where I decided to whip up a batch of my own homemade pickled vegetables.

Giardiniera is actually easy to make and it looks beautiful. It makes a great hostess gift when placed in a glass jar and can brighten up a table or plate. Plus it preserves vegetables that may have started going bad in a day or two. You don't need giant pickling vatts or canning equipment to use my recipe. You've got everything you need right in your kitchen.

Pickling Marinade:
3 Cups boiling water
1.5 Cups white vinegar
4 Tbs salt
6 cloves of garlic cut in half
3/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
3-4 basil leaves (optional)

You can use whatever vegetable you like, from a mixture to only one vegetable. Here is what I used:
1 head cauliflower
Half a head Brocolli
24 ounce button mushrooms
4 Kirbie cucubmers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 onion
2 carrots

Chop up the vegetables and put them to the side. Combine all marinade ingredients and heat until boiling. It is preferrable to use a non-reactive pot like Cast iron or Stainless Steel for this process. Immerse the vegetables in the pickling liquid for 30 seconds. If you like crispy pickles you should remve the vegetables at this point. However if you like "dead" or limp vegetables you hould leave them in for several minutes. Using a Slotted Spoon
transfer the vegetables into glass jars, pack the vegetables in tightly and then pour in brine to the top of the jar. Store in the refrigerator.

A note on canning: This recipe calls for you to place the pickles in the fridge and assumes you will eat them in a few weeks. However if you want to store your pickles at room temperature and have them last years then you will need to use proper canning procedures to ensure there is no harmful bacteria or spores that can grow during this period of time on the shelf. In this case you absolutley MUST use sterilized canning jars.

Proper jars are always made from glass and have no chips or breaks. They have glass, plastic or metal lids often with a rubber seal. Two piece jars offer a vacuum seal which is great for canning. To sterilize, first wash with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Then place in an oven set to 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Alternatively you can immerse the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes. Use tongs to handle hot jars.


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